‘Death With Dignity' Supporters Want Mass. Lawmakers to Take Up Bill

(NECN: Alison King) - Massachusetts voters rejected a Death With Dignity law in 2012, but right-to-die supporters on Wednesday say they're not giving up.

The legislation would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adults the right to end their lives.

"I really feel that when I'm terminally ill, that when it comes my time, that I would like to have some ability to make decisions on how I'm going to die," Watertown resident Susan Shapiro says.

Shapiro is a clinical worker who has recurring cancer.

"People are afraid to talk about death and its very frightening to them," she says, "but I think when you talk to people individually, a lot of people would want to have that choice."

Shapiro helped deliver more than 7,000 petitions signed by Massachusetts residents to the Public Safety Committee in the hopes that the committee will release the bill for a vote in the House.

Attempts to pass "Death With Dignity" in Massachusetts have always failed, most recently in 2012 when it was on the state ballot. But supporters of the bill says times have changed, and they point to poll numbers to prove it.

A new poll shows that 70 percent of Massachusetts voters support death with dignity as a right - a 10 point increase over 2012.

Rep Louis Kafka, the lead sponsor of the bill, says a lot of the opposition comes from fear.

"They refer to it as assisted suicide and people think of Dr. Kevorkian," he says.

And Death With Dignity supporter Marie Manis says there are other misrepresentations.

"They're going to kill weak people, they're going to kill old people, that this is something that gets done to you rather than a choice," she says.

Rep. Vinnie DeMacedo, an opponent, has other concerns.

"Allowing somebody to end their life is a very slippery slope so to me I feel very uncomfortable making that decision," he says. "We as a society are saying, that its okay that a doctor can decide and help end somebody's life - you know, what is the diagnosis and is it two months, is it four months? Is it 15 months? We don't know."

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