---- — BOSTON (AP) — Supporters of a ballot question legalizing physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill in Massachusetts have conceded defeat, even though the vote is too close to call.
A spokesman for the Death With Dignity Act campaign said in a statement early today that "regrettably, we fell short."
In the statement e-mailed to the media, Stephen Crawford of Crawford Strategies said: "For the past year, the people of Massachusetts participated in an open and honest conversation about allowing terminally-ill patients the choice to end their suffering. The Death with Dignity Act offered the terminally-ill the right to make that decision for themselves, but regrettably, we fell short.
"Our grassroots campaign was fueled by thousands of people from across this state, but outspent five to one by groups opposed to individual choice. Even in defeat, the voters of Massachusetts have delivered a call to action that will continue and grow until the terminally-ill have the right to end their suffering, because today dying people needlessly endure in our Commonwealth and do not have the right to control their most personal medical decision. "
With 93 percent of precincts reporting early today, opponents of the measure were ahead by about 38,000 votes.
The question would have allowed terminally ill patients to get help from their doctors to end their lives with lethal doses of medication.
Religious, medical and disability rights groups fought the measure, saying it's open to manipulation and relies on diagnoses that could be wrong.
A call to an opposition group, The Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide, was not immediately returned Wednesday.