Idaho House Committee Moves Assisted Suicide Ban Further

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 23, 2011   |   11:55AM   |   Boise, ID

An Idaho state House committee moved the legislation banning assisted suicide and making it a felony further down the legislative process.

The House State Affairs Committee approved SB 1070 on a unanimous voice vote on Tuesday and the action sends the legislation to the full House for a debate and vote. While surrounding states like Washington and Oregon pushed ahead to become the first in the nation to legalize assisted suicide and Montana could be right behind them, the Senate already approved the bill and it is likely headed to the governor.

The Idaho Senate voted overwhelmingly Friday to support the bill, which would revoke licenses from physicians who prescribe a lethal cocktail of drugs for patients to use to kill themselves. The law also allows people to get injunctions to prevent others from killing themselves with a doctor’s help. If it becomes law, those found guilty face five years in prison.

The motion to send the bill to the House was made by Rep. Elfreda Higgins, a Boise Democrat.

David Ripley of Idaho Chooses Life told, “No opposing testimony was presented at the hearing. During the Senate deliberations, the Idaho ACLU testified against the bill. Supporting testimony was provided by Cornerstone Institute, Right to Life, the Idaho Medical Association and attorney Bob Aldridge.”

“This is a tremendous victory for the pro-Life movement in Idaho. Such overwhelming votes should make it clear to the death lobby that they are not welcome in our beloved state,” he added.

Jason Herring, president of Right to Life of Idaho, told lawmakers:  “We don’t believe this belongs to a doctor or a hospital. This belongs to our creator.”

Sen. Russ Fulcher, a Republican who sponsored the bill, noted the pro-suicide laws of neighboring states when lobbying for the bill.

“It is a slippery slope to say the least,” he told the Senate. “To me, that kind of standard of care … sends a message to our elderly people.”

The Idaho Senate approved SB 1070 on Friday morning by an overwhelming 31-2 vote, with two members of the Senate missing from the floor. Several Democrats voted for the legislation, including Sen. Minority Leader Edgar Malepeai of Pocatello.

About the Senate vote, Ripley added: “Fulcher led debate for the bill, pointing out that the legislation was intended to protect current medical care standards in Idaho. He was joined by Sen. Steve Vick, one of the co-sponsors, in pointing out that Idaho’s current lack of statute in this area leaves us vulnerable to the efforts of groups like Compassion & Choices – the organization that brought assisted suicide to Montana, Oregon and Washington.”