State Legislative Issues
Christian Medical & Dental Associations provides grassroots support on issues at the state level. We do this by working collaboratively with like-minded coalitions, organizations and committees. We provide written testimony from CMDA Headquarters in Bristol, Tennessee and recruit and prepare CMDA members to testify. In some instances, we develop a task force of CMDA members who speak out on the issue to the media, educate their community and colleagues and contact legislators.
If you are interested in getting involved, please contact Margie Shealy, VP for Communications at CMDA or call 423-844-1047.
There are six states where physician-assisted suicide is legal: California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Oregon, Washington and Vermont. In these states, statutes give criminal and civil immunity to doctors and others, including family members, who participate in a patient's suicide under certain conditions. Oregon's act was enacted via a ballot initiative in 1997. Washington's act was enacted via a ballot initiative in 2008 and went into effect in 2009. Vermont's doctor-prescribed suicide bill became legal on May 20, 2013. California was signed into law in October 2015 and went into effect June 2016. On November 8, 2016, Colorado voters passed Proposition 106, at the ballot and the law went into effect on December 16, 2016.
A 2013 Pew Research Survey indicates that 47% approve and 49% disapprove of laws that would allow a physician to prescribe lethal doses of drugs that a terminally ill patient could use to commit suicide.
A 2015 Marist Poll found that Assisted Suicide bills show little support and major concerns.
A 2017 Gallup Poll indicates highest level of support for euthanasia in U.S. since 2005.
CMDA's united efforts with other like-minded organizations and CMDA members have stopped the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Wisconsin.
Alaska - HB54 termed Terminally Ill: Ending Life Option passed out of the Health and Human Services Committee and has been referred to House Judiciary Committee. There was no public notice about the first hearing and no public input.
Arizona - HB 2102 titled End of Life Decisions has been introduced in 2018.
California - After being defeated six times in regular legislative sessions and by vote of Californians, assisted suicide was pushed through an extraordinary legislative session called to address Medi-Cal funding for low-income individuals. Governor Jerry Brown signed AB-15 into law on October 5, 2015, falsely asserting it legalized suicide (which has never been illegal in California, because it is deemed to be the result of mental illness). The law took effect on June 9, 2016.
Colorado - Proposition 106 termed End of Life Options passed by a state ballot inititive on November 8, 2016.
Connecticut - Legislation to legalize assisted suicide has been defeated in Connecticut for the past three legislative sessions. In 2017 HB 6024 was filed and referred to the Public Health Committee and HB 6238 was filed and referred to the Joint Committee on Public Health where they died. On March 2, 2018 HB 5417 was raised and is now in the joint committee on public health.
D. C. - D.C. Council passed physician-assisted suicide bill, Act 21-577 on November 15, 2016 and it was signed into law on December 2016 by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser. Under the federal Home Rule Act, a disapproval resolution passed by both houses of Congress and signed by the president within 30 legislative days would have blocked the law from taking effect. The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voted on February 13, 2017 to send a disapproval resolution to the House floor, but it never received a vote. A corresponding Senate resolution did not make it out of committee. Congress can still neutralize the Death with Dignity Act by cutting off its funding through the appropriations process.
Delaware - Rep. Paul Baumbach once again proposed a bill to end the patient's life prematurely HB 60 in 2017. This bill carries over in 2018.
Hawaii - Five bills were introduced to legalize assisted suicide in January 2017. SB 1129 using the term, "medical aid in dying," which is a euphemism for physician-assisted suicide allows nurses to assess capacity and prescribe lethal medication. All bills carry over to 2018. In addition, two new bills HB2218 and SB2727 were introduced in 2018.
Indiana - In January 2018, Rep. Matt Pierce, D-Bloomington authored House Bill 1157 based on Oregon's "Death with Dignity" law.
Iowa - Two bills to legalize assisted suicide were introduced in February of 2017, House File 299 which was referred to the Judiciary Committee and Senate File 215 which was referred to Human Services. They carry over into 2018.
Kansas - HB 2120 was filed in 2017 and has been referred to the Commitee on Health and Human Services.
Maine - In 2017, LD347, (SP113) was filed and referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services. The Maine bill to legalize assisted suicide was defeated in the Senate on June 15, 2015.
Maryland - In 2017, HB0370 Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer End-of-Life Option Act was introduced again and sits in the House Health and Government Operations Committee. The author of the Senate bill SB354 withdrew the bill, but the House bill is still active.
A bill to legalize physician-assisted suicide was introduced by State Senator Ron Young was filed February 9, 2015, titled Richard E. Israel and Roger "Pip" Moyer Death With Dignity Act. After a public hearing lawmakers concluded this measure needs additional study and would move to a legislative working group. Advocates re-introduced the bill in 2016. On March 3, 2016 SB 418 the Senate physician assisted suicide bill was withdrawn from consideration by its lead Senate sponsor, Sen. Ron Young.
Assisted suicide bills in 1995, 1997 and 2009 were defeated. Voters in 2012 rejected a“death with dignity” ballot initiative that sought to legalize the practice. In 2016, H1991 was "sent to study" meaning the bill is dead. Prior to this state Rep. Louis Kafka had filed three previous versions of the bill, in 2011, 2012 and 2013. In 2016, the Massachusettes Public Health Committee failed to act on the bill before the June 30 deadline.
MIchigan - HB 4461 has been sponsored by Representative Tom Cochran and sits in the House Health Policy Committee. This bill would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication or would legalize physician-assisted suicide if passed. HB 4462 – amends criminal sentencing standards to eliminate penalties for assisting a suicide. Both bills carry over into 2018.
Minnesota - SF 1572 was introduced in 2017 and carries over into 2018.
Mississippi - Senate Bill 2283 to legalize assisted suicide died in Committee in January 2017.
Missouri - Representative Brandon Ellington introduced HB0524 in 2017 which is the same as previous bills HB1919 in 2016 and HB307 in 2015. There was an attempt to add it to another bill and it failed.
Montana - The 2015 Montana Legislature defeated SB 202 an Oregon model bill that would have allowed euthanasia with immunity. It is a homicide in Montana. The vague Baxter vs Montana decision provides a potential defense if a doctor is charged with a homicide. No one has immunity from criminal or civil prosecution in Montana. HB 536 sponsored by Rep. Brad Tschida would allow physicians to be prosecuted for homicide and clarifies that assisting a suicide is prohibited. The bill was narrowly defeated in March 2017 allowing doctors to get away with writing prescriptions that would take the life of their patients.
Nebraska - State Senator Ernie Chambers of Omaha is the sponsor of 2017 Legislative Bill 450.This is the second time Senator Chambers has sponsored a bill that would legalize assisted sucicide in Nebraska. The bill carries over into 2018.
Nevada - SB261 was introduced by Sen. David Parks in March 2017 and referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. The bill died when the session ended.
New Hampshire - LSR 2018-2748, SB490, the Study of End of Life Options was considered and killed. In debate, the author of the bill made it clear that her bill was a precursor to assisted suicide.
New Jersey - A1504 and the identical bill in the Senate S1072 were introduced in 2018. The Assembly bill currently sits in the Asembly Judiciary Committee. The Senate bill has been referred to the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. Historical Reference:
New Mexico - SB 252 passed through the final senate committee and went to the floor for a full vote on March 15 where it died.
House Bill 171 introduced January 2017 passed the House Health and Human Services Committee and resides in the Judiciary Committee. This bill doesn’t include a 6 month terminal illness diagnosis instead it says a terminal illness, … which will result in death within a reasonably foreseeable period of time. This bill allows Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants to provide prescriptions which will end the life of the patient. And there is no mention of mental health evaluation.
The New Mexico Court of Appeals struck down a lower-court ruling establishing physician-assisted suicide on August 11, 2015. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the district court had erred when it determined that “aid in dying is a fundamental liberty interest.” In June 2016, the New Mexico Supreme Court decided in a 5 - 0 decision upheld the New Mexico Court of Appeal decision that assisting a suicide is a crime in New Mexico in Morris v Brandenburg.
New York - A02383 the same as S3151/A2383 was referred to the health committee and carries over into 2018
Ohio - Senator Tavares introduced Senate Bill 249, authorizing prescriptions for aid-in-dying medication.
Oklahoma - Resolution HJR 1009 Ballot Measure was introduced in January 2017 for a ballot referendum to legalize assisted suicide and carries over into 2018. It is a carry over bill in 2018.
Oregon - SB893 introduced in 2017 allows the doctor to administer the drugs which would end their patient's life prematurely which changes the definition from assisted suicide to euthanasia. Others who have the healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney will also be allowed to give the drugs to the patient. SB0494 if passed will allow starving dementia or mentally ill patients to death. Oregon was the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide termed "Death with Dignity." This bill would remove current safeguards that protect conscious patients’ access to ordinary food and water when they no longer have the ability to make decisions about their own care.
Pennsylvania - SB 238 was filed in 2017 was referred to the Judiciary Committee and carries over into 2018.
Rhode Island - H7297 was introduced in 2018 and referred to the House Health, Education and Welfare Committee.
In 2015, a Death with Dignity bill HB0391 was introduced by the same sponsor Rebecca Chavez-Houck and was put on hold for further study according to media reports. In 2016, Chavez-Houck introduced a new bill "End of life options Act" HB0264 which on February 25 was sent back to the Rules Committee in effect killing the bill.
Vermont - Alliance Defending Freedom filed a suit on behalf of CMDA against the state medical licensing authorities. Although Act 39, Vermont’s assisted suicide bill, passed with a very limited protection for attending physicians who don’t wish to dispense death-inducing drugs themselves, state medical licensing authorities construed a separate, existing mandate to counsel and refer for “all options” for palliative care to include a mandate that all patients hear about the “option” of assisted suicide. After winning the suit, Compassion & Choices appealed and later withdrew allowing the ruling to stand in favor of pro-life healthcare professionals.
Washington - SB 5433 "Concerning informed decision making for death with dignity decisions" is a simple bill clarifying that persons considering assisted suicide under Washington State's Death with Dignity Act have a right to be told of their options for cure or to extend life. Passing the bill will be consistent with how the Act was marketed to the voters, as providing choice for the individual. This bill has been reintroduced in 2018.