CURRENT BILLS TO LEGALIZE ASSISTED SUICIDE


In a recent fundraising letter, Compassion & Choices lamented that “the Trump Administration just released its 2020 budget, and it’s bad for medical aid in dying.” Medical aid in dying (MAID) is C&C’s deceptive tag for physician assisted suicide (PAS). C&C warned supporters that the budget would “Prohibit the use of local funds to carry out D.C.’s Death with Dignity Act” and “Embolden opponents of medical aid in dying to consider seeking a nationwide ban on the practice.” We say, “Thank you, Mr. President!”
Six states and Washington, DC have legalized PAS since 1997.
Every year, bills to legalize assisted suicide are introduced in numerous states. 2019 is no exception. Fortunately, most of these bills die, but the enactment of even one is a travesty of justice for the people whose lives will be devalued by offering them the “choice” to kill themselves with medical assistance. Furthermore, one anti-life law leads to another and another. We must never let down our guard and, as Jackson Milton in this month’s feature article tells us, we “must combat the arguments for physician-assisted suicide.” Compassion & Choices and other proponents of assisted suicide are relentless. We must be just as tirelessly determined to defeat their attempts to medicalize suicide.
ASSISTED SUICIDE LEGISLATION
(This may not be a complete list of assisted suicide bills introduced so far in 2019.)
Good news first!
Connecticut: HB 5898 died in the Public Health Committee. Lisa Blumberg, an attorney and member of the bipartisan disability advocacy group Second Thoughts Connecticut stated that this bill "Sets forth the circumstances under which a doctor could actively prescribe lethal drugs to directly cause the death of a supposedly willing patient without fear of liability.” That, in a nutshell, describes every bill to legalize assisted suicide.
Maryland: “In a dramatic end, the Maryland Senate was deadlocked in a 23-23 [vote] on their physician-assisted suicide bill when it came time for the last senator to vote on March 27, 2019,” reports Nancy Valko. “Sen. Obie Patterson decided not to cast a vote which effectively killed the bill that needed a majority vote to pass.”https://nancyvalko.com/2019/03/31/lessons-from-the-victory-against-assisted-suicide-in-maryland/
New Mexico: The “End-of-life Options Act” is dead.
Montana: A bill to effectively outlaw assisted suicide and stealth euthanasia in Montana has passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 6-4 vote. HB284, “providing that consent to physician aid in dying is not a defense,” would also establish that euthanasia by any other name is against public policy.
Bills that are still active:
Minnesota: S.F. 2286/H.F. 2152, authored by Sen. Chris Eaton and Rep. Mike Freiberg, would effectively overturn Minnesota’s current law (Minnesota Statutes 609.215) protecting against assisted suicide.
Nevada: On March 20, a divided legislative committee moved SB 165, a physician-assisted suicide bill, to the full Senate for a vote.
New Hampshire: On March 14, Nancy Elliott, Chair, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition USA, reported, “Today the NH House of Representatives passed HB 291 establishing a committee to study … Assisted Suicide. What I find troubling is that it passed 214 to 140.”
New Jersey: The Assembly and the Senate have passed A1504/S1072, the “Medical Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.” It awaits the Governor’s signature.
New York: Will, once again, consider assisted suicide legislation—AO 2694—despite numerous past failed attempts to legalize it.
Oregon: Four bills to expand Oregon’s “Death With Dignity Act” have been introduced. One bill, HB 2217, would allow patients to take the assisted suicide drugs in ways other than swallowing. These ways are not specified, but could include through an IV, feeding tube, lethal injection, or even a gas mask. This is closer to euthanasia than assisted suicide.
Pennsylvania: Senator Daylin Leach has circulated a co-sponsorship memo to reintroduce a bill to legalize assisted suicide in Pennsylvania. 
Rhode Island: H 5555, the “Compassionate Care Act” was introduced by Rep. Edith Ajello. She testified before the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee on March 27 that this bill “does not allow euthanasia or assisted suicide,” denying the obvious. Legislation to permit doctors to prescribe drugs for patients to use to kill themselves has only one purpose—legalizing assisted suicide. 

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