Physician-Assisted Suicide Legislation Moves Forward in Several States
Recently, we have seen a number of states considering legislation that would legalize PAS. Across the board these bills are very similar and do not provide even adequate protections for vulnerable populations such as the elderly and individuals with disabilities. Most recently we have seen action taken on dangerous bills in both New Jersey and Hawaii.
In Hawaii the legislation passed out of committee and the House just recently passed a bill that now will go to the Senate. According to a state representative who voted against the bill, the vote came before they saw a draft of the bill:
“The way this bill was hustled through sight unseen is an example of the dysfunction of the legislature,” Republican Rep. Andria Tupola wrote in response to the vote. “We were asked to vote without our members having seen a written draft of the revised bill. I literally had nothing in front of me on which to vote,” she continued, pointing to the insufficient and lackluster process by which the Hawaii lawmakers voted on the measure.
In New Jersey, legislators advanced a bill out of the judiciary committee amid controversy. Leading the opposition was the Medical Society of New Jersey – Chief Operating Officer, Mishael Azam, raised significant concerns with the legislation:
“There is no requirement for a witness to the death. How can we ensure that the patient is in a safe environment and that the medications are taken and work properly?” she wrote. “On the other hand, if the patient is not alone, how do we know he is not coerced to take the medication, or even given the medication without consent? A terminally ill patient should not be exposed to such a risk.”
In addition, states like Delaware and Massachusetts are also considering PAS bills this session. While Maryland won’t see a bill this year, we will most certainly see something filed next year with proponents likely claiming renewed momentum.