New Hampshire Panel Rejects Bill to OK Assisted Suicide for Residents, Others
by Steven Ertelt
November 10, 2009
Concord, NH (LifeNews.com) — A New Hampshire legislative committee has rejected a bill that would have expanded assisted suicide to New Hampshire but allow it for residents of surrounding states. The language could have turned the Granite State into a suicide haven.
The newly proposed HB 304 by Representative Charles Weed would not only have allowed assisted suicide but would have gone further by making it so a terminally ill patient need not be actually suffering serious symptoms to qualify for assisted suicide.
However, the state House Judiciary Committee voted 14-3 against the bill as even supporters and opponents of assisted suicide teamed up to defeat the bill.
The battle against the bill is not done as the full state House will vote on the committee’s recommendation in January, but if the chamber accepts the do not pass recommendation the bill can’t be brought up next year.
Rep. Nancy Elliott, a member of the committee opposed to assisted suicide, told AP, "It’s not the function of government to encourage suicide in the young or the old. It’s a prescription for elder abuse."
Supporters of assisted suicide opposed the bill because it did not take into account current laws and needed more safeguards before moving forward. They promised to bring back another bill with them.
Bioethics attorney Wesley J. Smith criticized the bill when it was introduced and said it would make it so a terminally ill patient need not be actually suffering serious symptoms to qualify for assisted suicide.
"Assisted suicide advocates are cultural imperialists who, as they pretend they only want a ‘limited’ change in law and culture, actually seek to widen and expand the euthanasia/assisted suicide license through the use of loose definitions and broadly worded ‘restrictions," he said.
The Weed measure said a qualified patient for assisted suicide "means a capable adult who us a resident of New Hampshire or is a patient regularly treated in a New Hampshire health care facility."
That opens the door to residents of new England states to drive to New Hampshire to kill themselves under the law.
"This would generally spread assisted suicide access to citizens of Massachusetts, Vermont and Maine," Smith explained. "But it also at means people from all over the country could easily qualify for assisted suicide by traveling to New Hampshire for treatment, then obtain the prescription, and go home."
"Usually, state laws and proposals require that patients asking for assisted suicide be residents," he noted.
Kevin Smith of the conservative Cornerstone Policy Research and Bob Dunn, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Manchester, also strongly opposed the bill.
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