One of the first major bills introduced into the Massachusetts 2023-2024 legislative session is An Act Relative to End of Life Options. Its early designation is SD265. Joanne Comerford introduced it. She is a social worker liberal activist turned legislator who represents much of Franklin County along with parts of Hampden and Worcester counties. She chaired the senate half of the Joint Committee on Public Health last session and likely will again.
Here is the bill she introduced. A House bill will come along soon enough.
The bill has some significant language changes, the most striking being a stronger attack on Catholics, Christians, and anyone with a well-formed conscience who will not help patients kill themselves nor send them to anyone else who will.
Section 15 deals with those who will not hasten the death of patients. Last session, it stared with:
Section 15. (a) A health care provider may choose whether to voluntarily participate in providing to a qualified patient medication pursuant to this chapter and shall not be under any duty, whether by contract, by statute, or by any other legal requirement, to participate in providing a qualified patient with the medication.
It listed a lot of ways a clinician cannot be coerced or punished for giving good medical care. Now, in the current bill, it simply says:
Section 15. (a) A health care provider may choose not to practice medical aid in dying.
All the protection language for opting out has been completely stripped away!
As in the last bill, it demands that we make available a document for disclosure upon request that must include:
- Information about this law. [Forced speech]
- Specific services in which I refuse to participate. [Happy to provide it.]
- Point out when my practice is at odds with my employer. [Make me the problem.]
- “Describe the mechanism the provider will use” to refer a patient to a clinician who would happily hasten death. [Can that mechanism be “none”?]
- How the patient will be transferred to the death provider. [By their own means.]
- Inform the patient that I will send the records over at no cost to them. [Will do.]
This bill then adds this language, taking aim at Catholic hospitals:
(d) A health care entity that prohibits health care providers from qualifying, prescribing, or dispensing medication pursuant to this chapter while they are performing duties for the entity shall provide notice of such policy to the public by posting the information on its website.
They view religious freedom and conscience protection with such hatred that they cannot fathom that informed patients would actually choose to go where they know their clinicians will not think that they are better off dead. Instead, clinicians and staff would be dedicated to easing suffering through the care the give. In fact, they should post all Ethical and Religious Directives.
Still, it is language that is meant to put Catholic health care at odds with patients. It puts a special burden on clinicians of conscience. Activists will be going around asking for these documents in order to sensationalize and marginalize this group, as has been done post Dobbs with pregnancy issues.
The data from around the world bears out that it is not physical pain that drives people to euthanasia or assisted suicide. It is existential suffering arising from an ablest world filled with people like Comerford who cannot possibly believe their own lives could ever be worth living without health, power, and control. When they see others in such a state, their natural response is to agree that such a life is pitiful and needs to be hastened to death rather than burdening the medical system. They simply cannot bear the idea that a place could exist where they cannot not get what they want.
See all the resources relating to the state legislative efforts here.