Lawmakers hear from public on medical aid in dying bill

Six states allow physician-assisted death

BOSTON (WWLP)—An emotional hearing at the State House Tuesday as lawmakers heard from the public on a bill that could give their loved ones more end-of-life options. But the bill was also met with opposition.

Renee Mashel shared the story of her mother who suffered from stage 4 lung cancer at a hearing before the state’s Public Health Committee. Mashel, who’s with the patient advocacy organization “Compassion and Choices,” pleaded with lawmakers to give others the option her mother never had—the option to die peacefully.

“I wanted her to have the same dignity in death that she had achieved in life,” Mashel said.

A state proposal would allow terminally ill patients with six months or less to live to request, obtain and self-ingest life-ending prescription medication.

Dan Diaz watched his wife Brittany Maynard die from terminal brain cancer. The couple moved from California to Oregon so she could take the medication.

But those who oppose the bill have concerns over possible misdiagnosis and abuse of the proposed law.

“A medical prognosis is only a rough estimate lacking the certainty needed to base law upon it,” Kristine Correira of Witness for Life said.

Opponents also fear assisted suicide could cause medical insurers or family members to put pressure on minority, low-income and disabled residents.

Massachusetts voters rejected a similar proposal on the 2012 ballot.

California, Washington and Vermot allow physician-assisted death.

The public health committee will review testimony from the hearing before making recommendations on the “end of life options” bill.