‘Slippery slope’: Delaware House passes assisted suicide bill

Legislation that would allow the legalization of assisted suicide in Delaware passed the state’s House last month with a vote of 21-16.

House Bill 140 would allow a terminally ill person to end his or her life “in a humane and dignified manner” via assisted suicide as long as both the patient’s individual doctor or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN) and a consulting doctor or nurse sign off on the request and verify their belief that the individual is of sound mind and acting voluntarily.

Several Republican lawmakers expressed concerns with the bill, especially with the fact that these physician visits could be conducted via telehealth. Rep. Rich Collins said that legalizing assisted suicide would create a “slippery slope,” adding that “maybe because of some things we do here,” people would give up hope and see assisted death as their only choice.

The Catholic Church in the state has also spoken out against the proposal. 

READ: Normalizing assisted suicide will lead to a ‘duty to die’

“Our opposition is rooted in the Church’s belief in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death and the dignity of the individual, both of which are objective and non-negotiable truths and principles of our faith,” said a statement from the Diocese of Wilmington, which covers areas in both Delaware and Maryland. The statement referenced an older message from the Catholic Bishops of Maryland, which noted, “The central tenant guiding our opposition to this deadly proposal is that all human life is created in the image and likeness of God and therefore sacred.”

Though the legislation promises a “humane and dignified” manner of death, studies have shown that assisted suicide deaths are often the opposite. Assisted suicide drugs involve a paralytic which makes a person look peaceful while they are actually drowning to death in their own bodily secretions. A study in the medical journal Anaesthesia found that one third of assisted suicide patients took 30 hours to die, while four percent took seven days to die. In one horror story, a wife describes her husband coughing and choking for hours after taking the pill that was to end his life.

The bill is now being considered in the state Senate.

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