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Senate committee stops Death with Dignity Bill from moving forward

Nonprofit Compassion and Choices is fighting to expand health care options for patient at end of life through the Death with Dignity Bill.
Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 3:57 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WVIR) - Nonprofit Compassion and Choices is fighting to expand health care options for patient at end of life through the Death with Dignity Bill.

The Virginia Senate Committee on Education and Health heard arguments for and against the bill Thursday, February 3. The bill failed to move forward after the debate, but its supporters are still pushing since it still an option in the House.

“I don’t want to leave the state I love in order to determine the timing of my own death,” Richard Morgan of Charlottesville said.

Morgan is a retired pilot who has incurable prostate cancer.

“As a mentally-capable adult who will one day be facing my terminal disease, I feel very strongly that this decision should be mine,” Morgan said.

The bill, introduced in the House by 38th District Delegate Kaye Kory, would allow an adult suffering from a terminal condition to ask for medication to end their life in a “humane and dignified manner.”

There are multiple criteria in order for someone to be approved for this medicine.

“I think we are in a position now in Virginia to really think carefully about what we want to do to support individuals in the final choices that they have,” Virginia 10th District Senator Ghazala Hashmi said.

A similar bill has been law in Oregon for almost 25 years.

“It’s been in use without a single incident of abuse or coercion in those 25 years, which is the main concern I think from opponents of legislation like this, that it would somehow put potentially qualifying patients at risk of abuse or coercion by a physician or a family member,” 57th District Delegate Sally Hudson said.

Those against the bill have expressed concerns over coercion.

“Some people with severe disabilities are made to feel their lives are burdened on others, or others may make them feel uncomfortable with certain functions that must be performed to sustain their life,” one opponent of the bill with the Virginia Association of Centers for Independent Living said.

The bill has not been assigned to a Virginia House subcommittee. With each day that goes by Del. Kory say it less likely the bill will be heard by any committees in this session.

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