A traditional values organization based in Massachusetts has been gearing up for another battle against the assisted suicide movement, but it appears they will have time for preparation.
Both houses of the General Assembly have placed proposals on hold, meaning they will not receive consideration this year. The assisted suicide bills were "sent to study," which effectively kills them for the remainder of this legislative session according to the Massachusetts Family Institute (MFI).
Andrew Beckwith, president of MFI, sees it as a loss of momentum for proponents. It's been six years since they narrowly defeated a ballot provision calling for legalization in 2012. But HB1194/SB1225, the bill proposed this session, aims to resurrect the attempt to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide through the legislature.
According to MFI, the new bill has even fewer safeguards than the last. Specifically, the bill lowers the standard for screening for depression in patients requesting suicide, and requires that pro-life hospitals would not be able to prevent doctors from performing assisted suicide in their facilities.
The MFI president comments: "We thought they'd try and get it back on the ballot for this fall, 2018. As far as I can tell they didn't even attempt to do that and missed the filing deadline so then we thought they would try and push it through the legislature. [Thankfully,] that has failed."
Beckwith contends it's not just because of doctors and other medical professionals who oppose it.
"But also members of the disability community and inner city activists [oppose it] because they would be the ones affected, both because of pressures put on people who have substantial disabilities and folks who are economically disadvantaged bearing the brunt of what insurance companies will inevitably see as the cheaper alternative."
Evidence of that is found in California and Oregon, says MFI, where terminally ill patients were refused medical treatment that could extend or improve the quality of their lives because of the cost, but were offered the cheaper chemicals to end their lives.
Proponents of assisted suicide indicate they plan to revisit the legislation next session.