Skip to main content

MA Supreme Court Rules Against Medically Assisted Suicide: 'Every Life is Worth Living'

Share This article

The Massachusetts Supreme Court has ruled against physician-assisted suicide saying that allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to patients with terminal illnesses is not protected by the state constitution.

The high court's 4-2 decision now turns the issue back to the state Legislature where justices encouraged lawmakers to "craft appropriate procedural safeguards."

"Although we recognize the paramount importance and profound significance of all end-of-life decisions, after careful consideration, we conclude that the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights does not reach so far as to protect physician-assisted suicide," the Supreme Judicial Court wrote in its decision Monday. "We conclude as well that the law of manslaughter may prohibit physician-assisted suicide, and does so, without offending constitutional protections."

So far, physician-assisted suicide, or medical aid in dying, is allowed in 10 states and Washington, D.C., according to the advocacy group Compassion and Choices.

According to Second Thoughts Massachusetts, a disability rights advocacy group against assisted suicide, the state has introduced similar legislation over the last 20 years, but it has failed to move forward to a vote, including in the latest legislative session, which ended in July.  

Massachusetts euthanasia supporters seek to establish a previously unrecognized right to medical aid in dying, where a doctor prescribes lethal medication for use in committing suicide. They claim a majority of voters would support the measure.

But opponents say that is not true. 

"We have a very divided House of Representatives," State House Speaker Ron Mariano said recently. "There's not a 77 percent affirmative vote in the House right now."

Dr. Roger Kligler, a retired Massachusetts physician, filed the lawsuit in 2016 to be able to assist in the suicide of his terminally ill patient. 

"People are going to die suffering because of this decision," Kligler, 70, said after the court's decision. "I will continue urging lawmakers to respect the bodily autonomy of dying Massachusetts residents by passing the End of Life Options Act."

***Please sign up for CBN Newsletters and download the CBN News app to ensure you keep receiving the latest news from a distinctly Christian perspective.***

Opponents like John B. Kelly, director of Second Thoughts MA, argue that assisted suicide "has been re-characterized as a benefit to an ill or disabled individual."

"The answer is to address people's real needs...The answer is not medically assisted suicide," he wrote.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Chris Schandevel argued before the Massachusetts Supreme Court against assisted suicide. 

"Every human life—regardless of disability or illness—has immeasurable value, and the government must do all it can to protect life, especially for the most vulnerable who cannot advocate for themselves," he said in a statement. 

The group filed a friend-of-the-court brief in February with the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in support of the commonwealth's prohibition of physician-assisted suicide.

"Every life is worth living," Schandevel added. "And we're pleased the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court upheld the commonwealth's long-established legal tradition of protecting the dignity of every human life until natural death. Physician-assisted suicide radically degrades the practice of medicine. Patients should be able to trust their doctors to support and care for them. Offering terminally ill or disabled patients a 'quick exit' through death-inducing drugs destroys that trust."

Share This article

About The Author


Talia Wise has served as a multi-media producer for, CBN Newswatch, The Prayer Link, and CBN News social media outlets. Prior to joining CBN News she worked for Fox Sports Florida producing and reporting. Talia earned a master’s degree in journalism from Regent University and a bachelor's degree from the University of Virginia.