Three Wisconsin lawmakers are seeking to pass new legislation allowing those with terminal illnesses to end life “on their terms,” or by assisted suicide, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
The legislation, which has already been enacted in five other states and Washington, D.C. would legalize doctor-prescribed suicide in Wisconsin. It is modeled after Oregon’s assisted suicide law, which has been in place since 1997.
According to the Daily Cardinal, the criteria contained in the law for one to go through with doctor-prescribed suicide includes Wisconsin residency, of sound mind, a minimum age of 18 and recommendation of a physician for medication.
Wisconsin state Rep. Sondy Pope, a Democrat who introduced the legislation on Wednesday, said she is optimistic the law will shift “decision making power” from the physician to the patient.
“I think it’s really important that as individuals we each have the ability to control the circumstances of our life,” Pope told the Daily Cardinal. “I would personally like to have the opportunity to choose to end my life differently, with dignity.”
Wisconsin lawmakers rejected similar assisted suicide legislation last year.
However, this legislation is opposed by the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, pro-life and disability rights groups, and a number of Wisconsin lawmakers.
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“We think the goal of the medical profession is to heal and restore the individual and if that is not possible, to make sure they have a little comfort. We believe in the sanctity of life from conception until natural death. Physician-assisted suicide does not provide that,” Kim Wadas, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, told the Daily Cardinal.
Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, also expressed his concerns about individuals wanting to end their own lives when they “get in a really bad spot”; he said he cannot stand by legislation “allowing people to kill themselves,” US News and World Report stated. Vos said “the bill would take away hope” and push people to consider suicide.
Physicians take the Hippocratic Oath to above all, do no harm. One generally goes to a hospital to receive healthcare and palliative care in the context of illness and sickness, not to die. Assisted suicide puts doctors in an awkward position of deciding whose life is worth living.
Yet physician-assisted suicide takes away everything from these patients – including their hope and their very lives, which is the antithesis of healthcare.