Flagged Bill – HB 264 – End of Life Options Act – Rep. Chavez-Houck

Rebecca Chavez-Houck (Democrat - Salt Lake City)
Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (Democrat – Salt Lake City)

In recent years, national debate has increased over the issue of people choosing when to take their own life due to terminal illness, to allow them to die with dignity. One lawmaker is seeking to create an option for it in Utah.

HB 264 – End of Life Options Act, sponsored by Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck (Democrat – Salt Lake City), is modeled after similar legislation that was enacted in Oregon in 1997.

HB 264 will only apply to terminally ill people that are expected to only have six months or less to live. The bill requires two doctors to sign off on the prescription cocktail that would allow the individual to end their life, though patients would have to administer the fatal dose themselves. Doctors would also be given the option under the legislation to provide counseling if they feel that it is more appropriate for the patient. Finally, there is also a 15-day waiting period between the patient’s request and the writing of the prescription.

[pullquote]The right to take one’s own life when faced with a terminal illness is a profoundly personal one – One lawmakers wants to make sure that people will have the ability to legally die with dignity.[/pullquote]In 2015, Chavez-Houck ran HB 391 – Utah Death with Dignity Act, however it was introduced late in the session and garnered a lot of criticism. It was ultimately decided to hold the bill for interim study.

HB 264 is sure to follow suit and generate quite a bit of controversy. While questions persist on how life insurance companies would handle such events, other organizations have already indicated their disapproval, such as the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Despite opposition from some religious groups, other evidence suggests the general public does not hold the same opinion. A poll conducted last year by Utah Policy showed that 63 percent of Utahns are in favor of right-to-die legislation.

Regardless of what happens, the matter should be given a vigorous debate in the legislature. This is a very serious issue with very serious ramifications. It ultimately comes down to preserving individual liberty, while ensuring that doctors don’t suffer any consequences for assisting in the ultimate decision a person can make when faced with an incurable disease.

If people are terminally ill and wish to end their own life in a humane and dignified matter, as opposed to wasting away for months in a hospital or nursing home, then why should that option not be available? As long as they aren’t cajoled in any manner and are mentally fit to make decisions, there is really no earthly reason to deprive them of the right to choose their own destiny. “Death with dignity” is just that – allowing people to make that final decision on their own terms.

To contact Representative Chavez-Houck, click here or call 801-891-9292 (Cell)

You can track this, and all of our other flagged bills, by clicking here. Need an explanation of scores? Click Here.

Impact on Average Utahn 0-1-2-3-4-5
Need for Legislation 0-1-2-3-4-5
Lemon Score 0-1-2-3-4-5
Overall Grade B

2 Replies to “Flagged Bill – HB 264 – End of Life Options Act – Rep. Chavez-Houck

  1. I see you all will be reporting on a legalize assisted suicide bill upcoming.
    I have found (serving 60 fair booth days) that about half of the public thinks they are in favor of such a law, that is until they learn about the flaws in the laws that create new paths of elder abuse with immunity. Once they learn that a predatory heir may steer the signup process and then forcibly administer the lethal dose without oversight, they all said, “I am not for that!”.
    Anyway all of these Oregon Model bills have the same flaws that eviscerate flaunted safe guards.
    Here is an example list of flaws posted recently about the New Jersey bill that failed.

    The New Jersey Alliance exposed the following flaws in S 382:
    • No requirement of mental health evaluation or pain relief consultation.
    • Permits an heir to witness a death request.
    • Requires no oversight on whether the patient was willing to take the lethal drugs.
    • No requirement that a medical person be present to supervise the ingestion of lethal drugs.
    • Allows a third party familiar with how the patient communicates to make the death request.
    * Permits lethal drugs to remain in a patient’s home without securing them.

    * Relies on the inaccurate premise that a doctor can predict death within six months.

    * No distinction as to whether the death prediction is with or without treatment of the patient.

    * No required notification of family members.
    Immunizes from prosecution anyone participating in administering lethal drugs, even if their participation was coercive and out of self-interest
    Falsely certifies the cause of death.
    The New Jersey Alliance Against Doctor-Prescribed Suicide is a broadly-based, diverse coalition of organizations strongly opposed to the legalization of assisted suicide.
    Before you expound on your beliefs, read the bill.
    Use this as a check off list on your bill when it is published. Well worth your time.

    At your service,
    Bradley Williams
    MTaas dot org

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