Ballot Question 2 (assisted suicide) was defeated in
November 6 by a vote of 51.1% to 48.9%. This is a huge victory based on the fact that polling in June 2012 indicated that 68% of the people in
Massachusetts supported assisted
suicide and only 19% opposed it.
The assisted suicide referendum was defeated because there were many people who worked together to oppose assisted suicide from different perspectives. There were three main groups who opposed Question 2 and several others who influenced the outcome of the vote.
The Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide raised significant money. They developed one radio commercial, three TV commercials and a very effective hand-out.
The No on Question 2 campaign ran a great campaign and developed a TV commercial. They also instituted a very effective “get out the vote” strategy.
Second Thoughts, a disability rights group that was led by John Kelly, were effective in every debate. Kelly was also a spokesperson for the No on Question 2 campaign. Second Thoughts were well connected to the “progressive” elite in
Defeating the assisted suicide referendum in
done by focusing on what the law would actually do. Early polling indicated that
if this were a referendum over whether or not people supported assisted suicide
that we would lose.
The campaign was able to convince people that the statute was not safe.
There are several key flaws in the assisted suicide statutes in the states of
Washington and by focusing on
these specific flaws they were able to convince ‘soft’ supporters of assisted
suicide to vote no.
Margaret Dore, the leader of Choice is an Illusion is a key person at identifying the flaws in the assisted suicide statutes. Dore has effectively analyzed the statutes and developed campaign style ideas to convince the public that assisted suicide is not safe.
The campaign was successful at getting the media onside. Nine newspapers took an outright NO position on Question 2 and one newspaper clearly supported assisted suicide but was NO position on Question 2. This was an unprecedented success and it was accomplished by the campaign developing effective messages and sticking to them.
Tim Rosales, from the No on Question 2 campaign indicated that message discipline was a key to their success.
There was a lot of good experience gained in the campaign to defeat assisted suicide in
assisted suicide lobby is not going to stop, but rather they have already launched a campaign in New
New information indicates that the assisted suicide lobby is also targeting: Hawaii, Connecticut, New Mexico, Vermont, Montana, California and New York.
Canadians should also be concerned. The spokesperson for the Death with Dignity campaign in
the media the day after Question 2 was defeated that they would be helping the
Canadian assisted suicide lobby.
Lessons from the
- Work with a diverse group of people both independently and in coalition.
- Develop a set of effective messages and maintain message discipline.
- Focus on the actual proposed statute and not assisted suicide itself.
- Raise as much money as possible, and then raise more money.
- Terminology, use the term assisted suicide and not doctor prescribed death.