Washington State Bill Would Allow Assisted Suicide, Ballot Proposal Next

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 8, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Washington State Bill Would Allow Assisted Suicide, Ballot Proposal Next Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
February 8, 2006

Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) — A state lawmaker has introduced a proposal that would make Washington state the second to legalize the grisly practice of assisted suicide. The bill is not expected to make much progress but a former governor says he plans a ballot initiative and an extensive campaign for it.

Sen. Pat Thibaudeau, a Democrat from Seattle, says she’s introduced the bill to legalize assisted suicide because "I think people ought to have a choice in this matter."

Her measure is similar to a law in neighboring Oregon that allows doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to kill patients. Two physicians would have to agree that the patient had fewer than six months to live and was mentally capable of making the decision.

This bill hasn’t made any progress in the Washington state legislature and Thibaudeau told the Portland Oregonian newspaper she didn’t expect it to be approved. She just wants to spark discussion.

Opponents of the legislation say it pressures patients to think about dying rather than finding helpful medical care.

"We think that the answer is love and care at the end of life and not eliminating patients," Dan Kennedy, chief executive of Human Life of Washington, told the newspaper. "This turns (care) 180 degrees and asks doctors to be complicit in something we find morally offensive."

The Washington State Medical Association also has a policy against assisted suicide.

Meanwhile, former Washington Gov. Booth Gardner is planning an effort he expects to yield greater results — a ballot initiative in 2007 that would legalize assisted suicide.

Gardner, who has suffered from Parkinson’s disease for 14 years, told the Associated Press he should be able to decide when he dies.

"When I go, I want to decide," he said. "That’s why I plan to work on getting ‘assisted death’ in this state."

Washington state voters rejected an assisted suicide ballot effort in 1991 that would have allowed euthanasia as well by allowing doctors to dispense the lethal doses in addition to writing prescriptions.