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Lawmakers Put Off Physician-Assisted Suicide Bill for Another Year

Andrea Smardon
Carrie Snyder (left) testifies to the House Health and Human Services Committee in favor of HB264 as sponsor Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-Salt Lake City) listens.

Legislators heard passionate testimony for a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to legally end their own lives but ended up rejecting the proposal.

After the House Health and Human Services Committee decided to hold HB264 for an interim study, Democratic Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck said  she would continue to fight for the bill despite the setback.

“It’ll be back until this gets passed,” she told reporters.

She says she was glad lawmakers were able to hear from terminally ill patients who support the bill.

“They needed to be able to tell their stories,” she said. “That was the most important thing for me today.”

One of those patients was Carrie Snyder, a Salt Lake City resident diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer. Her father also died of cancer, and she says it was painful for the whole family to watch him deteriorate physically and mentally before he finally passed. She says she doesn’t want her family to go through that with her.

“I want to end my life while I’m still connected and lucid and can show my family and loved ones how much they mean to me,” she said. “I can then face death peacefully, with love in my heart, knowing my family is at peace as well.”

But Opponents of the bill cited concerns about unintended consequences for physicians, families and society as a whole.

Maryann Christensen with the Utah Eagle Forum says legal physician-assisted suicide would cause rifts in families who are in disagreement about a family member choosing to end their own life.

“These times help families to grow closer together,” she told the committee. “They teach families nurturing and compassion.”

The committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the interim for another year of study. 

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