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Mass. voters say no to assisted suicide

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley chats with voters at a local polling place near the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston. Pilot photo/Gregory L. Tracy

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BOSTON -- After months of working to defeat Question 2 that would have legalized physician assisted suicide in Massachusetts, opponents reacted to the measure's apparent defeat Nov. 7.

As of press time, the ballot count stood at 1,496,291 opposed to 1,437,737 in favor of the proposal, with 99 percent reporting. Proponents of the bill at the Death with Dignity Campaign also conceded defeat in a statement released publicly early in the morning on Nov. 7.

Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley said in a statement, "Tuesday's vote demonstrates that the people of the commonwealth recognize that the common good was best served in defeating Question 2. The Campaign Against Physician Assisted Suicide brought together a diverse coalition from medical, disability rights and interfaith communities, all dedicated to ensuring that our residents were well informed about this issue."

The cardinal called for the medical community to move forward in providing medical support for patients, rather than helping them end their lives.

"Our society must continue to work with hospice organizations and other palliative care providers to improve the care provided to the terminally ill. Patients are best served when the medical professionals, families and loved ones provide support and care with dignity and respect," he said.

The cardinal thanked Rosanne Meade, chair of the Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide; Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications; Martilla Strategies; and the four Catholic dioceses of Massachusetts for their efforts to defeat the ballot initiative. He also thanked Father Bryan Hehir, archdiocesan Secretary for Health and Social Services; Janet Benestad, the archdiocese's Secretary for Faith Formation and Evangelization; Scot Landry, archdiocesan Secretary for Catholic media; Kathleen Driscoll, archdiocesan Secretary for Institutional Advancement; and the Knights of Columbus.

"I also want to thank every individual who shared information with their neighbors, colleagues and family members. It is my hope and prayer that the defeat of Question 2 will help all people to understand that for our brothers and sisters confronted with terminal illness we can do better than offering them the means to end their lives," the cardinal said.

Benestad worked closely on the effort of outreach to parishes in the archdiocese, in an educational campaign to address the realities of the ballot question.

"We learned early this morning that Dignity 2012 and those who were promoting the assisted suicide initiative in Massachusetts have conceded on Question 2. For us that was extremely, extremely good news. We are certainly chastened and conscious of the fact that this was a very, very close vote, and that there is a lot of work to do," she said.

Secretary of the Commonwealth William F. Galvin had not released official vote tallies at the time of Benestad's interview.

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