Utah Committee Delays Vote on Bill to Legalize Assisted Suicide, Will Study Issue Further

State   Steven Ertelt   Mar 6, 2015   |   3:00PM    Salt Lake City, UT

Utah is one of several states where euthanasia activists are pushing legislation to legalize assisted suicide. A coalition of pro-life groups, religious organizations, disability rights advocates and medical professionals have kept most of the bills at bay so far during the legislative session, but several states still face massive battles.

These battles might result in a couple more states joining Oregon, Washington and Vermont as the only states to officially legalize assisted suicide. In Oregon, assisted suicides jumped 44 percent and significant abuses and other problems accompany the practice of assisted suicide as patients don’t get the medical and mental health treatment they need instead.

In Utah, lawmakers decided not to vote on legislation legalizing assisted suicide, but decided to kick the bill to a summer study committee. Here’s more:

The House Health and Human Services Committee voted to send HB391, the Death with Dignity Act, for further study during an interim session.

Sponsor Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, said she got what she wanted: “to get this discussion started.”

HB391 would have let patients with terminal or “intractable and unbearable” diseases ask doctors to help them die.

Kristina Eberle of United Families International said diagnostic errors might lead some who are not dying to take their own lives, and others might only want to end their lives for the sake of their families.

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“The law is a teacher,” she said, and the Death with Dignity law would imply “that a person’s life is less important if they are not healthy.”

Jean Hill, government liaison for the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, opposed the bill on sanctity-of-life grounds.

In a state with such high suicide rates, why would government want to send a message that any suicide is OK? she asked.

Most doctors don’t give months-to-live diagnoses — as the bill specifies — because they’re often wrong, she said.

“Natural death is a humane and dignified process, even when it’s messy,” Hill said.