Assisted suicide: New Mexico, Hawaii bills push envelope
by David Roach, Baptist Press, February 8 2017
Legislators in 15 U.S. states are considering proposals to legalize assisted suicide, with a leading patients’ rights group flagging bills in New Mexico and Hawaii as particularly concerning….
In New Mexico, the “End of Life Options Act” (House Bill 171) would allow doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants to diagnose terminal illness and prescribe life-ending medication the same day with no second opinion.
Five assisted suicide bills have been introduced by Hawaii legislators, with one (Senate Bill 357) not requiring a second opinion to confirm a terminal illness diagnosis before life-ending drugs are prescribed.
PRC executive director Rita Marker told Baptist Press (BP) that “no other state has proposed a bill seriously like” the one under consideration in New Mexico. Hawaii’s proposal to do away with second opinions likewise is “just absolutely incredible.”
Also “new this year,” Marker said, assisted suicide proponents are beginning to claim that “safeguards” used to gain public support for previous legislation “are just barriers” to quality medical care and should be abolished….
Hawaii’s S.B. 357 would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs the same day a patient is diagnosed as terminally ill. A PRC analysis argues “‘terminally ill’ is so broadly defined that a very frail individual or a severely disabled individual could be given a lethal prescription.”
“Unlike other laws and proposals, ‘terminally ill’ is defined as ‘the final stage of an incurable or irreversible medical condition that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, result in death within six months,’” the PRC analysis noted. “There is no requirement that the patient have a terminal disease or illness – only that the condition is incurable or irreversible. Furthermore, there is no reference to the fact that the six months’ prognosis be with or without medical treatment.”
Andrew Large, pastor of Waikiki Baptist Church in Honolulu, told BP an interdenominational group of Hawaii pastors is coordinating opposition to assisted suicide bills. He called such legislation “another step down a bad path.”
“God is the author of life and death,” Large said. “I leave those decisions up to God to say when people go. I see the other side of the argument,” but “God is still God and He is sovereign.”
Large added, “We don’t always understand what it is God is trying to do by keeping somebody alive a little bit longer than what we, in our human nature, would say.”
Because neither Hawaii S.B. 357 nor New Mexico H.B. 171 limits assisted suicide to state residents, the PRC has expressed concern those states could become suicide destinations….
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SB357: Text, Status