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House Rules Committee Thwarts Bill For End-Of-Life Options

Austen Diamond

A renewed effort to allow terminally ill patients to end their own life with medical help has been cut short.

Rep. Jen Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake City, sponsored the bill this year. It’s often referred to by advocates as “death with dignity” legislation.

She said Republicans on the House Rules Committee decided not to advance the bill to a standing committee, meaning it will not even get a public hearing this year.

Critics say there isn’t enough support for it, but Dailey-Provost points out there are newly elected lawmakers who’ve never considered the issue before.

“We have 19 new members of the House and it’s only ever gone to Health and Human Services [committee], and there are several new members on that committee this year who may have a different perspective or opinion,” she said.

Former Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck led the effort for end-of-life options unsuccessfully for years before handing it off to Daily-Provost, who’s new to the legislature herself.

The legislation is modeled after Oregon’s law and would allow terminally ill patients over the age of 18, who have fewer than six months to live, to obtain prescription medications to end their life," said Dailey-Provost.

She said that with recent voter-led efforts to expand medical marijuana and Medicaid, the public is more receptive to health care choices.

“The sentiment is that people need to have more agency and more freedom and more ability to have access,” said Dailey-Provost. “The Legislature, by and large, has a little ways to go to get there.”

So far, only seven states and the District of Columbia have legalized physician-assisted suicide.

Julia joined KUER in 2016 after a year reporting at the NPR member station in Reno, Nev. During her stint, she covered battleground politics, school overcrowding, and any story that would take her to the crystal blue shores of Lake Tahoe. Her work earned her two regional Edward R. Murrow awards. Originally from the mountains of Western North Carolina, Julia graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 2008 with a degree in journalism. She’s worked as both a print and radio reporter in several states and several countries — from the 2008 Beijing Olympics to Dakar, Senegal. Her curiosity about the American West led her to take a spontaneous, one-way road trip to the Great Basin, where she intends to continue preaching the gospel of community journalism, public radio and podcasting. In her spare time, you’ll find her hanging with her beagle Bodhi, taking pictures of her food and watching Patrick Swayze movies.
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