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Physician-assisted suicide back before First State lawmakers

Legislation allowing physician-assisted suicide is being introduced again this year in the Delaware House.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Paul Baumbach, is similar to one he introduced last year.

It allows a terminally ill adult to get medication to end their life if two doctors agree the patient has an incurable disease that will likely result in death within six months. Patients must go through two waiting periods, and make an informed and voluntary decision.

Medical Society of Delaware President Richard Henderson said members voted by a simple majority last month to reject a resolution moving the group’s position on the issue from opposed to neutral. He said their position is about what the proper role a doctor should be play in patient care.

“This is not attempt to shorten or do away with patient autonomy and patient decision making," he said. "That is very important and should be one of the conversations that every patient has with his or her doctor and I hope they do before you get to that stage.”

Baumbach said he’s disappointed by the Medical Society’s decision not to take a neutral stance on the bill.

He said he added several changes this year to address issues that came up last year.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding; some innocent, some not innocent about what the bill does and the bill does not do,” he said.

Baumbach stresses he believes this should be a dying patient’s decision.

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