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Physician-assisted suicide legislation lacks votes to clear Delaware House

Delaware Public Media

Legislation legalizing physician-assisted suicide was pulled off the House agenda for a second time earlier this week.

The bill is currently short the 21 votes it needs to advance to the Senate.

State Rep. Paul Baumbach’s (D-Newark) bill would allow willing doctors to give terminally-ill adults medication to end their lives. He said the aim is ease the suffering of people in their final days.

“And they would like to have some control over their last days of pain and when that pain stops," he said. "This is not taking life from anyone. This is taking suffering from those who are dying.”

Advocates for and against physician-assisted suicide are lobbying lawmakers hard on the issue. Opponents argue there are not enough safeguards in the bill to prevent seniors or people with disabilities from being pressured to end their lives.

Baumbach disputes that argument. Baumbach said there’s Delawareans dying in unnecessary pain that could be helped by this legislation.

“This is a bill for the small number of people who are dying and who support this," he said. "And we want to get government out and let dying person drive their end of life care.”

Patients would have to request life-ending medication twice orally and once in writing. They’d also need two doctors to agree they are dying within the next six months and capable of making an informed and voluntary decision.

The Medical Society of Delaware and the Bishop of Wilmington’s Catholic diocese say they oppose the physician-assisted suicide legislation.

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