Submitted by Andrea Perrault

On Tuesday, October 27th, BEC members joined a packed State House hearing room in support of a bill filed by Representative Louis Kafka – “An Act affirming a terminally ill patient’s right to compassionate aid in dying”. As supporters of this legislation, the Board of Trustees of the Boston Ethical Community submitted written testimony in support of the bill, providing our voice to the Joint Committee on Health Care Policy chaired by Representative Kate Hogan and Senator Jason Lewis.  As occurred in 2013, the issue drew many people to testify and to attend in support and in opposition to the legislation. Rep. Kafka was first to testify in support of the Act that he had proposed, and told the story of a constituent who had endured a long and painful death, and who had enlisted Kafka’s support in drafting this bill. Although his constituent has died, Kafka remains committed to the cause and does so in memory of his friend. Other legislators appeared with Kafka to speak in support, including Jay Kaufman of Lexington and Chris Walsh of Framingham. Representative Lori Ehrlich of Marblehead also addressed the committee to tell them of her heart-wrenchingly sad experience with the death of her father; she appeared with a Marblehead doctor and a police detective who also support the bill.

ER nurse Barbara Mancini, who had been featured on 60 Minutes, described being prosecuted and jailed for handing her father his legally prescribed morphine. Dan Diaz testified also; he was the husband of Brittany Maynard, who had left her home state of California and moved to Oregon, where support of compassionate aid in dying is currently legal.

We hope this legislation (HB 1991) will be reported favorably out of committee to allow further debate on the issue to occur. Stay tuned for news of the vote of the committee – BEC members keep you informed.