Delaware bill would allow medically assisted suicide

Legislative Hall in Dover. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Legislative Hall in Dover. (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

State Rep. Paul Baumbach’s legislation would allow terminally ill patients to use medication to end their life.

Baumbach introduced the Delaware End of Life Options Act in the State House on Tuesday. The measure would require counseling, a doctor’s evaluation and a waiting period before “capable” terminally ill patients would be allowed to get drugs to end their life.

“This is an issue about allowing adults facing a terminal illness to make critical decisions about their life,” said Baumbach, D- Newark. “Many people in the last stages of life wish to retain their dignity, including the ability to make decisions regarding their life and their suffering.”

In addition to a doctor’s evaluation, a terminally ill patient wishing to end their life would also have to get confirmation from a second doctor, undergo psychiatric counseling, and pass through two waiting periods before getting a deadly dose of medication. Under the bill, qualifying patients must have “an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgement” result in death within six months.

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“The Delaware End of Life Options Act provides terminally ill adults an additional option to decide whether they wish to lessen their pain and suffering,” Baumbach said. “But it is not a decision that they can make haphazardly, or without numerous safeguards.”

Baumbach’s bill was assigned to the House Health & Human Development Committee.

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