Idaho Governor Otter Signs Bill Banning Assisted Suicide

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 7, 2011   |   12:56PM   |   Boise, ID

Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter has signed SB 1070, a measure prohibiting assisted suicide in Idaho. The bill comes as Oregon and Washington has approved assisted suicides and Montana has opened the door slightly.

The Idaho House and Senate voted overwhelmingly  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.

Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, told she is proud of the governor for signing the bill, which she called a “helping hand that Idaho is reaching out to the vulnerable among us who may be pressured to give up hope and end their lives.”

Senator Russell Fulcher and Representative Clifford Bayer sponsored SB 1070, based on AUL model language, to supplement existing common law and statutory law by confirming that it is illegal to cause or assist in the suicide of another. Yoest also commended the 31 state senators and 61 state House members who supported the bill.

“Members of the Idaho legislature prevented a deliberate effort to create a ‘right’ to assisted suicide in Idaho. The gracious and compassionate response of a people to their elderly, ill and disabled is to improve their quality of life, not end their lives,” she said

David Ripley of Idaho Chooses Life also supported the measure and previously told LifeNews: “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. 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.”

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.”

Fulcher, during testimony,  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.”