Rep. Dailey-Provost introduces latest “death with dignity” legislation

Freshman Representative Jen Dailey-Provost introduced the “End of Life Options Act” earlier this week, marking the fifth year in a row this kind of legislation has been proposed.

Dailey-Provost takes over the reins on this issue from Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck who has introduced “aid in dying” bills every year since 2015, but did not file to run for re-election in 2018. Previous iterations of the bill have been referred for further study during interim sessions, but none have moved out of committee.

Similar to bills introduced in previous sessions, the new 2019 bill would establish the means for an individual with a terminal illness to obtain medication to end their life. In order to obtain the prescription, the patient would need to voluntarily make oral and written requests for the medication, with witnesses present, and then repeat the request after no less than a 15-day waiting period. Physicians would be required to inform patients of their opportunities to rescind the request, feasible alternatives to the medication, and the risks involved.

The bill makes it clear that health care providers would not be required to provide medical aid-in-dying care, but they would need to make an effort to transfer the patient to a willing provider if the patient requests it.

During the 2018 legislative session, lawmakers passed a bill amending Utah’s manslaughter statute to include assisted suicide. The bill brought forth concerns that this could unintentionally target family members or physicians assisting individuals who are terminally ill.

As with previous versions of the bill, Dailey-Provost’s legislation states,

“Actions taken in accordance with this chapter do not, for any purpose, constitute suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing, or homicide, under the law.”

According to a 2015 Utah Policy poll, 58 percent of Utahns favor “right to die” legislation with 35 percent opposed. However, poll results also reflect a partisan divide on the issue. When broken down by political party, 42 percent of Republicans reported being in favor of this kind of legislation and 50 percent were opposed. For Democrats, 90 percent said they were in favor, with 7 percent opposed. Six percent of all responders were unsure.