Mass. Voters Poised to Weigh 'Death with Dignity Act'

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Voters in Massachusetts will be voting on a proposal in November that allows for doctor-assisted suicides.

The measure, called the Death with Dignity Act, would allow individuals nearing the end of a terminal illness to obtain medication for a drug that will kill them at a time of their choosing.

Compassion and Choices and The Death with Dignity Centers helped to craft the measure.

Supporters of the measure, like former New England Journal of Medicine editor Marcia Angell, suggested the election could have national implications.

"It will be the first eastern state, the first heavily Catholic state," The Pew Center of States quoted Angell. "This will be a big, big advance in compassionate medicine, I think, and then probably there will be dominoes around the country."

But the state's Roman Catholic Church has come out against the referendum, saying "doctor-assisted suicides" are a "grotesque threat to the elderly and sick."

"We are called to comfort the sick, not to help them take their own lives," Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley said.

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