BOSTON - State legislators representing Worcester are spearheading a bill that would give medical options to those nearing the end of their life. They released poll data Wednesday that they said shows Massachusetts voters support the bill. 

What You Need To Know

  • Legislators have proposed a bill that would allow for end of life options

  • A poll presented Wednesday says that 73% of Massachusetts voters agree with the bill

  • It is currently illegal in most states to be prescribed a medication to end one's life

  • There are many safe guards in place to prevent misuse

Right now, if someone were to have a terminal diagnosis and want to die on their own terms, they can’t be assisted by a doctor in most of the country.

Massachusetts legislators, including state Rep. Jim O’Day, D-Worcester, and state Sen. Jo Comerford, D-Hampshire, Franklin & Worcester, have backed a bill that would give state residents options at the end of their life.

“I want to be in my own home, I want to be aware of my surroundings and I want to be in the arms of my loving husband,” said Joann Vizziello, a cancer patient. “I don’t think I’m asking too much. I want only the option.”

Speaking at a virtual press conference Wednesday Vizziello, a north shore resident with a rare form of cancer who wants options when her time comes.

“There is always the possibility that the drugs that I am on will stop working and the cancer will take over my body," she said. "If that happens and I find myself at the end of my life in unbearable pain and suffering, I want the option to obtain medical aid in dying and the comfort of knowing I can have a peaceful death." 

The proposed bill would give residents the option to be prescribed medication that would end their lives without suffering. There are many restrictions built into the bill for those receiving the medication, including a sound mind evaluation, waiting period and a terminal diagnosis. 

Lawmakers said polling by Beacon Research shows 73% of people support the legislation. The polling group of just over 1,000 voting-age Massachusetts residents included a close split of men to women, with slightly more women answering the survey. The ages varied, but the majority were under 65 years old, living in all parts of the state, with 48% living on or within I-495. Forty-two percent of those polled identified as Catholic.

“This bill gives individuals who are terminally ill with a prognosis of six months to live, or fewer than six months, the ability to choose how they die if they want that option," Comerford said. "The bill has many safeguards added through study, through looking at other states and through conversations over the years. It's strong, sound and ready for passage."

This bill has been close to the governor’s desk in the past. According to O’Day, with Gov. Maura Healey now in office, they feel much more comfortable bringing it to her desk to be signed.