Monday, January 11, 2021

Washington State debates bill to expand assisted suicide law. Say No to Same Day Death.

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Washington State legalized assisted suicide in 2009 after an assisted suicide initiative passed during the 2008 election.

Last year, the Washington State legislature debated "study Bill 2419" to examine the elimination of "safeguards" in assisted suicide laws. Bill 2419 passed but it was vetoed by the Governor who was trying to control the 2020 budget. (Link to article on Bill 2419).

In 2021, House Bill HB 1141 is being introduced, not to study, but to expand the assisted suicide law in Washington state. HB 1141 is being sponsored by Representatives Nicole Macri (D) and Skyler Rude (R).

HB 1141 will expand the assisted suicide law by:

  • Expanding the list of who can prescribe lethal drugs by changing the requirement from physicians to "qualified medical provider." A "qualified medical provider" is defined as a physician, or a licensed physician assistant, or a osteopathic physician, or and advanced registered nurse practitioner.
  • Expanding the list of who is legally able to counsel a person, when the qualified medical provider questions the ability of the person to consent. Those who are permitted to offer counseling include: a state licensed psychiatrist or, psychologist, independent clinical social worker, advanced social worker, mental health counselor, or psychiatric advanced registered nurse practitioner.
  • Eliminating the 15 day waiting period within the law and replaces it with a 72 hour waiting period before the second request is made. The 72 hour request period can be rescinded if the qualified medical provider believes that the person may be imminently dying.
  • Allowing the lethal prescription to be delivered to the person, rather than requiring the lethal drugs to be accessed by the person who is approved to die or the physician.

HB 1141 expands the assisted suicide law by eliminating the waiting period, making it possible for a same day death. A person can request and potentially receive lethal drugs on the same day. Studies prove that a person's will to live will fluctuate. Your bad day becomes your last day.

The bill also expands who can prescribe the lethal drugs from physicians to "qualified medical provider," that includes physician assistants and registered nurse practitioners. Expanding the list of who can approve and prescribe lethal drugs not only increases the availability of assisted suicide but it also enables lesser trained medical providers to specialize as "assisted suicide providers."

Last year, study Bill 2419, that was sponsored by the same Representatives, (Section F) of the Bill sought to study the need to self-administer the lethal drugs. Removing the requirement of self-administration would mean that someone else would be allowed to administer. This would change the law from permitting assisted suicide to permitting euthanasia. Euthanasia is when someone else administers the lethal drugs. Euthanasia is a form of homicide.

HB 1141 does not change the requirement of self-administering but the intention of the bills author is to allow euthanasia.

As I have always stated, once we legalize prescribing suicide by lethal drugs, the prohibition on killing has now been crossed. The only remaining question is the rules that are established to kill.

No comments: