Death with Dignity legislation is continuing to make its way through state house chambers nationwide. Also known as medical aid-in-dying, physician-assisted suicide or even euthanasia, the legislation would give terminally-ill, able-minded adults the power to end their lives by using a prescribed medication. Six states and the District of Columbia allow residents to end their lives this way.
Last week, the Delaware End of Life Option Act, HB160, advanced out of the Health and Human Development Committee and is awaiting a House floor vote. The main sponsor of the bill, Rep. Paul Baumbach, stated that the bill does not condone suicide and is “a vote for the suffering, dying Delaware residents at the end of their lives.”
Earlier this month Nevada became the sixteenth state to reject death with dignity legislation. The Nevada State Senate passed an aid-in-dying bill by just one vote, but the Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services chose not to advance the bill on the last day of the legislative session. Supporters plan to reintroduce death with dignity legislation during Nevada’s next legislative session in 2019.
In Massachusetts, a judge allowed a lawsuit that would protect physicians from the state’s manslaughter and murder laws if they prescribe lethal medicine for terminally ill patients to move forward. The lawsuit was filed by two doctors and is being pursued by Compassion and Choices, a group that advocates for death with dignity laws and end of life options.
According to the nonprofit Death with Dignity, thirty states have had aid-in-dying legislation introduced in 2017.