Virginia bill would legalize 'medical aid in dying'

Bill's purpose is to help end patient's life in humane manner

By Ida Domingo - Intern
Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved

ROANOKE, Va. - Virginia State Delegate Kaye Kory introduced House Bill 2713, the Death with Dignity Act, on Jan. 15. This is the first time in history an aid in dying bill will be considered in the Virginia state Legislature.

For Kory (D-Fairfax), medical aid in dying is all about choice.

“It’s not assisted suicide,” she said, according to the Washington Post. “It’s about being able to make a choice of how you want to handle your own dying process. It does confer a measure of dignity and independence to the patient." 

The bill has been referred to the House Courts of Justice Committee. However, the bill isn’t assigned to subcommittee or a scheduled hearing as of now. If Kory’s proposal does not win approval from the House of Delegates by Tuesday, it will be dead for the legislative session.

According to the bill, it “allows an adult who has been determined by an attending physician and consulting physician to be suffering from a terminal condition to request medication for the purpose of ending his life in a humane and dignified manner.”

Under this bill, many requirements are set before a patient is prescribed medication to end their life.

Once approved, “The bill requires that a patient's request for medication to end his life be given orally on two occasions and in writing, signed by the patient and two witnesses, and that the patient be given an express opportunity to rescind his request.“

This bill’s purpose is to help end a patient’s life in a humane and dignified manner.

“The ability for an individual to decide when suffering becomes unbearable should be a basic human right,” Kory said. “We should respect the wishes of terminally ill adults who have weeks or days to live.”

States with a death with dignity statute are California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Montana (legal by court).

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