Legislation to legalize assisted suicide in Nebraska is getting a major push from the national pro-euthanasia organization Compassion & Choices.
The bill, LB 1056, introduced by state Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha, would legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill patients in the state. Chambers first proposed the bill, named the Patient Choice at End of Life Act, in January, according to the Nebraska Legislature website.
Efforts to help it advance are being promoted by euthanasia advocates outside of the state, with the political director of the pro-euthanasia group Compassion & Choices lobbying at the state’s Capitol, according to the Lincoln Journal Star. Dan Diaz, the husband of young assisted suicide victim Brittany Maynard, also has been lobbying legislators in Nebraska to legalize assisted suicide, the report states.
The bill would “require that a patient express his or her request for life-ending medication, both orally and in writing, and must self-administer the medication without assistance. An attending physician, as well as a consulting physician, must concur and document their belief the patient is competent to make medical decisions and is acting voluntarily,” according to the report.
The euthanasia organization, formerly the Hemlock Society, is hoping to advance its national assisted-suicide goals by bringing the Nebraska bill to the floor with just one flipped vote in committee. The Senate committee recently voted in a 4-4 split not to move it to the Senate floor for a vote, according to National Right to Life News Today.
And the bill is getting more support than initially thought; state Senator Bob Krist, who says he is pro-life, voted to advance the bill to the Senate floor for a vote, according to the local news report.
The Journal Star states that many doctors oppose the bill because they do not want to get dragged into participating with patients’ desire to kill themselves.
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Dr. Dale Michels, a Lincoln, Nebraska family doctor, told the newspaper that medical professionals should be healing and relieving patients’ pain, not helping them commit suicide.
“I would say that most physicians, I think, are going to say, ‘No that’s not what I went into medicine for was to help people die,’” Michels said.
Disability rights activists also oppose this bill, since euthanasia laws leave disabled people vulnerable. They point out that the legislation has no safeguards in place to protect the sick and elderly from coercion and abuse.
When California legalized assisted suicide in 2015, Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Committee, pointed out how dangerous this type of legislation is.
Assisted suicide laws send a message to vulnerable people that “their lives are less worthy to be lived. The so-called ‘right-to-die’ movement promotes these laws as simply ‘another medical option’ at the end of life, but their real goal is euthanasia on demand for any reason,” Tobias said.
“There are no real safeguards. It is a well-established fact that nearly every terminally ill patient who desires death is suffering from treatable depression. In Oregon [where assisted suicide is also legal], fewer than 6% of patients have been referred for psychiatric evaluation before obtaining life-ending drugs. Rather than treat clinically depressed patients, the Oregon system, and the system that would be established by the California bill, indicates that you instead help the patients kill themselves,” Tobias noted.
ACTION: Nebraska pro-lifers are encouraged to use this formula to contact all members of the Judiciary Committee as well as your own state Senator and ask that LB 1056 be defeated: To email a state legislator (Example: [email protected]), use 1st letter of 1st name, full last name and @leg.ne.gov.