SB1136, Death with Dignity

LD8 Senator McGuire introduces death with dignity measure

A Democratic lawmaker has introduced a bill granting terminally ill patients the right to take their own lives with prescription life-ending drugs.

The measure by Sen. Barbara McGuire, D-Kearny, says patients with an incurable disease and six months left to live can request medication to end their lives under the care of a physician. The measure specifies patients must provide oral and written confirmation of their decision. It also makes it a felony to tamper with forge or destroy evidence relating to a patient's decision.

As baby boomers enter their golden years, end-of-life care has become a greater priority with doctors in California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana already prescribing life-ending drugs. California Gov. Jerry Brown was the latest governor to sign a "right-to-die" proposal into law in October.

A Rocky Mountain Poll from last fall found 58 percent of Arizona residents favor right-to-die legislation based on a sample size of 700 adults with a 3.8 percent margin of error.

Senate Bill 1136 is likely to face several hurdles on its way to becoming law. Republicans who control the Legislature are unlikely to back the measure, and Gov. Doug Ducey opposes physician-assisted suicide.

McGuire said that in a state where it's legal to euthanize animals in pain, lawmakers should find it in their hearts to do the same for the people they love who face unnecessary suffering.

"I sat with three of my family members over the past 10 years and watched them, and held their hand as they died, as they took their last breaths. Some of them were gruesome, some of them were screaming, and thrashing and twitching in their last moments of life. That's horrific. That's horrific to me," she said. "I hope that with time I can persuade my good colleagues down here on both sides of the aisle to find a compromise that we can all live with that will be humane to human life at the end of human life."

Opponents of the measure, including Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, say hospice and other end-of-life care providers offer the support necessary to make people comfortable in their final moments.

"I don't want to get all spiritual on you, but I think when our time comes, that's not the call of some other person. I think that we're all here for a time, and when our time comes then that's when we die," he said.

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