House Committee Hears Testimony On End-Of-Life Bill
The Utah House Health and Human Services Committee met Thursday to hear testimony on a bill allowing terminally-ill patients to commit suicide. The legislation, introduced by Salt Lake City Democratic Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, is nearly identical to her similar bill last year.
Chavez-Houck said that one of the changes in this year’s bill is a rule that calls for physicians to make patients aware of disability resources. She said that an individual could not have assistance ending their life.
“The patient must be counseled on all feasible alternative treatment options, including hospice, pain management, and palliative care. I have added one more provision this year in my law of asking physicians to make sure to talk to their patients about disability resources, giving the patient information about where they can go to for disability resources,” she said. “The patient must be able to self-administer the medication. No one else can assist. The proposed law does not permit euthanasia, mercy killing, or assisting a suicide. All of which remain felonies under Utah law.”
Utahns for and against the proposal shared their own experiences with suffering and incurable illness, often with great emotion. Chavez-Houck said that the law would allow healthcare providers with objections to decline any involvement in the procedure.
“The patient who chooses this option must be a mentally competent adult who is a legal resident of Utah and is diagnosed with an irreversible and incurable illness that will result in the patient’s death in six months or less,” she said. “Healthcare providers opposed to this type of legislation are not required to participate. This is totally voluntary for the healthcare provider. It is totally voluntary for the patient.”
The bill was given a reading in the House the same day.