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Protection of Conscience Project

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House Bill 1998 (2013)

An Act affirming a terminally ill patient’s right to compassionate aid in dying

Check the status of this bill at the Massachusetts Legislature

Note: The following protection of conscience provisions are included in a bill to legalize assisted suicide in Massachusetts for residents who are at least 18 years old and diagnosed with a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less.  It is not clear from the text of the statute whether or not an objector is exempt from all parts of the assisted suicide process [per Section 4(b)ii], or only from the requirement to actually provide the lethal medication [per Section 4(1)].  Similarly, it is not clear whether or not an objector is required to refer or otherwise assist a patient to find someone who will provide a lethal prescription; Section 4(b)iv appears to imply an expectation of referral or assistance. [Complete text of bill] [Administrator]

Section 1. Definitions.

“Health care provider” means a person licensed, certified, or otherwise authorized or
permitted by law to administer health care or dispense medication in the ordinary course of
business or practice of a profession, and includes a health care facility.

Section 15. Provider Participation

(1) A health care provider may choose whether to voluntarily participate in providing to a
qualified patient medication pursuant to this act and is not under any duty, whether by contract, by statute, or by any other legal requirement, to participate in providing a qualified patient with the medication.

(2) A health care provider or professional organization or association may not subject an
individual to censure, discipline, suspension, loss of license, loss of privileges, loss of
membership, or other penalty for participating or refusing to participate in providing medication
 to a qualified patient pursuant to this chapter.

(3) If a health care provider is unable or unwilling to carry out a patient's request under
this chapter and the patient transfers care to a new health care provider, the prior health care
provider shall transfer, upon request, a copy of the patient's relevant medical records to the new health care provider.

(4) (a) Health care providers shall maintain and disclose to consumers upon request
their written policies outlining the extent to which they refuse to participate in providing to a
qualified patient any medication pursuant to this act

(b) The required consumer disclosure shall at minimum:

(i) include information about the Massachusetts Compassionate Care for the Terminally
Ill Act;

(ii) identify the specific services in which they refuse to participate;

(iii) clarify any difference between institution-wide objections and those that may be
raised by individual licensed providers who are employed or work on contract with the provider;

(iv) describe the mechanism the provider will use to provide patients a referral to another
provider or provider in the provider’s service area who is willing to perform the specific health care service;

(v) describe the provider’s policies and procedures relating to transferring patients to
other providers who will implement the health care decision;

(vi) inform consumers that the cost of such transfer will be borne by the transferring

(vii) describe the internal and external consumer complaint processes available to persons affected by the provider’s objections.

(c) The consumer disclosure shall be provided:

(i) to any person upon the request;

(ii) to a patient or resident or their authorized appointed health care agents, guardians,
surrogate decision-maker upon admission or at the time of initial receipt of health care.

Section 18. Construction.

Nothing in this chapter may be construed to authorize a physician or any other person to
end a patient's life by lethal injection, mercy killing, assisted suicide, or active euthanasia.




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