Delaware Legislature Tables Physician Assisted Suicide Bill

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Physician-assisted suicide tabled in Health committee

Lawmakers on Wednesday stalled legislation in committee that would allow terminally-ill patients to request medication to end their own life.

Rep. Paul Baumbach, D-Newark, said he requested that lawmakers on the House Health & Human Development Committee keep the ‘Death with Dignity’ legislation in committee.

“We knew when we filed the bill that we did not yet have a critical mass of support, but what we also knew was that the bill and the issue needs to be heard…,” he said. “I’m hopeful that we will continue to learn about this issue and see whether, and how we wish to proceed.”

Baumbach said he has plans to introduce a bill that would establish a task force exploring end of life treatment and choices in Delaware.

“Hopefully we’ll over the next six months we’ll have public meetings to learn more and hear more from each other and find best practices across the country,” he added.

By tabling the bill, lawmakers on the committee can always bring it back for a vote until June 30, 2016.

Patients would have to have an incurable and irreversible disease expected to end their life within six months. Two doctors would have to confirm the diagnoses, according to the legislation.

They would also have to be informed of all alternatives, including hospice care, and a mental health consultation is required if either doctor suspects any mental illnesses, like depression.

There is a three-step process for patients to receive the life-ending medicine, according to the legislation. A patient would have to make the initial request, then there would be a 15-day wait, another request, then a two-day wait, and then the patient would receive the prescription pills. After ninety days the initial request would expire.

According to the legislation patients can rescind their request at any time.

Doctors and healthcare providers are also able to choose whether or not they participate and can opt-out as well. Doctors and healthcare providers are protected from any retaliation under the legislation, according to the bill.

Oregon, Vermont and Washington have similar laws. Court decisions in Montana and New Mexico also have allowed the practice in those states.

Contact Jon Offredo at (302) 678-4271, on Twitter @JonOffredo or joffredo@delawareonline.com