The Fight Next Door: Delaware’s Dangerous PAS Bill

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Recent news about physician-assisted suicide laws and proposed legislation around the country shows just how important the fight is here in Maryland. In New York, the fight against PAS is being taken to the state’s highest court. And in Colorado, a legislator argued taxpayers shouldn’t be asked to support the practice, after money was set aside for PAS in the state budget.

Another debate is happening much closer to home, in the neighboring state of Delaware. Delaware’s House committee recently advanced HB 160, the proposed bill on physician-assisted suicide. HB 160 has some very concerning aspects, one of which is an amendment that would violate federal law on the disposal of controlled substances. 

But thanks to the tireless efforts and grassroots mobilization of members of the coalition against PAS in Delaware, the House vote on the bill was pushed until January (at the earliest), when the Delaware General Assembly reconvenes their legislative session in Dover. The coalition’s efforts are pivotal as it has been reported that there is bipartisan opposition to the bill.  Mobilization against Delaware’s HB 160 is key, as those who have testified against the bill have expressed they have had family members and friends survive terminal illnesses for many years, saying a diagnosis doesn’t necessarily mean a death sentence:

Terri Hancherick, a disability rights advocate, strongly opposes the bill, saying she feels no regulations could ever prevent someone from being nudged into suicide.

“They are frequently coerced into making decisions that they believe will make a family member or a healthcare provider happy. It is impossible to legislate the safeguards to make sure these people are safe from the dangers of assisted suicide,” Hancherick said.

As demonstrated here in Maryland, we’ve seen what happens when different groups come together to fight for a common cause.  For three years in a row physician-assisted suicide legislation has been defeated in the Maryland General Assembly. That is due to the hard work and commitment from those in our coalition. In Delaware a similar effort against this legislation is underway and we will continue to offer our support.

We know that Delaware will continue to be a target for this legislation and we must continue to work to defeat it as we move forward.

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