Showing You The Money: Donations For And Against Assisted Suicide

This article is more than 9 years old.
(Source: The Massachusetts Secretary of State's Website)
(Source: The Massachusetts Secretary of State's Website)

In ages of yore, you had to trek into a state office building and shuffle through piles of papers to discern which political forces were backing which candidates and ballot initiatives. These days, thankfully, everything is only a click or two away.

I was wondering about the funding of Question 2 — also known as Death with Dignity and physician-assisted suicide — and all I had to do was drop in to this crystal clear section of the Secretary of State's Web presence. It lists the groups that support or oppose Question 2, how much money they've taken in and how much they've spent. (My, my, it also shows about $1 million in support of medical marijuana and only about $3,000 in opposition — but that's another topic.)

If you drill down just a bit, by clicking on a particular sum, you can see specifically who contributed, and how much. For example, I clicked here to see the breakdown of the $2 million in contributions to the main Question 2 opposition group, The Committee Against Physician Assisted Suicide.

Expectably, there's a strong Catholic presence. There's also $250,000 from American Family Association Inc., with the notation that it was refunded. The Associated Press reported last month that the American Family Association is a Mississippi-based group with anti-gay views, and the Question 2 opponents returned the money "in the interest of more focused debate."

If you click on Dignity 2012, major supporters of the measure who've pulled in nearly $500,000, you see money from two national organizations, Death With Dignity National Center and Compassion & Choices, and then a very long list of mainly small donations from individuals.

I didn't count carefully, but a rapid scroll through suggests there are about 500 names there, while I see only about 40 names of individuals on the list of donations to the opponents. Readers, if you scan the lists, does anything else strike you?

This program aired on October 24, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.




Listen Live