Massachusetts votes down “death with dignity” initiative

By Sam Hayes

Courtesy of

Ballot question 2 – which would have allowed for patients with less than six months to live to request end of life medication from their doctor – failed by a 2 percent margin.

The “Death with Dignity” initiative was declared too close to call Tuesday night, disallowing  the official announcement to be made until yesterday.

The question initially had the support of voters, according to the Boston Globe. But voters gradually lost confidence in the measure in the face of strong resistance from “religious leaders, anti-abortion activists and conservatives,” according to the Globe.

If the initiative had passed, it would have allowed certain specially licensed physicians to prescribe lethal dosages of drugs to terminally ill patients that fit specific criteria in order for them to end their lives.

Since the measure failed, there will be no changes to any current end-of-life care laws.

“We believe Question 2 was defeated because the voters came to see this as a flawed approach to end of life care, lacking in the most basic safeguards,” Chairperson of the Committee Against Assisted Suicide Rosanne Bacon Meade said in the statement reported on by the Globe.

“A broad coalition of medical professionals, religious leaders, elected officials and voters from across the political spectrum made clear that these flaws were too troubling for a question of such consequence,” she said.

In her statement, Meade said the initiative in favor of the ballot was outspent five to one by groups against the initiative.

Ads attacking the ballot question claimed the law was poorly written and could easily be abused, offering similar views as the aforementioned critical responses.

Similar laws have already been passed in Oregon and Washington, according to the Globe. Statistics kept in these states have shown that the medication is rarely requested and used even less frequently.

In recent years, similar ballot questions have failed in Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, according to the Globe.


Sam Hayes can be reached at [email protected]