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Politics & Government

Rep. Baumbach's physician-assisted suicide bill returns to Dover

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State lawmakers will once again consider legalizing physician-assisted suicide.

Two years after a similar bill failed to get out of a House committee, Rep. Paul Baumbach (D-Newark) is revamping a proposal allowing people to seek out life ending drugs from their doctors.

Baumbach doesn’t expect the bill to pass this year, either, but he wants to keep pushing the issue to gain more momentum.

Patients would have to wait 15 days after their first request and mental health consultation before getting a prescription. Then, he or she would have to wait another 48 hours before filling it.

They would also receive counseling on other options, like extraordinary treatment, palliative care or hospice care.

Baumbach says he understands what drives critics of his bill, but emphasizes there’s nothing that coerces anyone to end their lives.

“You can have everything you want, you have all of those end of life options, but for those who want this one option…I’d like to make that available to Delaware residents,” he said.

Patients can always rescind their request, not fill the prescription or choose not to take the medication if he or she changes their mind.

The Medical Society of Delaware “strongly opposes” the measure, saying it’s “fundamentally inconsistent with the physician’s role as a healer.”

Despite multiple waiting periods and medical evaluations outlined in the bill, the Medical Society of Delaware still opposes it.

Dr. Richard Henderson, an OB-GYN and the group’s president-elect, says he’s not comfortable determining whether a patient is in the right state of mind to make such a decision.

“I have an opportunity to work with women as they approach some aspect of the end of their lives because of a cancer diagnosis and I can tell you that I’m not prepared for it,” Henderson said.

Four other Democrats joined Baumbach on to the measure.  He was the sole sponsor two years ago.

So far, five states have legalized the practice, with Vermont the only one east of Mississippi River.

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