WASHINGTON – Massachusetts is looking to become the third state to pass the Death with Dignity Act, and its reputation as a medical mecca may accelerate the legislation’s popularity nationally.
Implemented in Oregon in 1998 and later passed in Washington, the Death with Dignity Act allows physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients.
As Massachusetts attempts to legalize this practice, it has met with opposition from the Catholic and pro-life community. If the act passes amid the state’s conflicting medical, Catholic and pro-life communities, other states could follow Massachusetts’ lead.
The campaign is called Dignity 2012 and it began in September with 15 original petitioners. The group aims to put the physician-assisted death question on the 2012 ballot and its petition must be approved and summarized by the secretary of state before being sent to the legislature. If the legislature fails to decide within five months, it will go to November’s election.
Traditionally liberal, Massachusetts hasn’t completely shed its “city upon the hill” mentality. Members of the Catholic community, including Sean P. O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston, have denounced the Death with Dignity proposition.
“What makes Massachusetts newsworthy is not that we are a state with such a strong medical community, but a state with a strong Catholic community,” said Steve Crawford, a spokesman for Dignity 2012.