Nearly three decades after Jack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian pushed doctor-assisted suicide into the national spotlight, state Sen. Charleta Tavares says it’s time that Ohio legalize the practice with strict safeguards in place.
The Columbus Democrat announced that she will soon introduce the “death with dignity” bill to allow mentally competent Ohioans who are terminally ill to request and self-administer life-ending medication.
“It is time we recognize the rights of dying and suffering patients to control their own end-of-life decisions,” Tavares said in a written statement.
Her legislation will be modeled after laws in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Vermont and Washington, D.C. It will include the following restrictions:
* patient must be diagnosed with a terminal condition by an attending physician, who must inform the patient of available treatment options;
* patient must make two verbal and one written request, dated and signed in front of two unrelated adults;
* the request must be made without coercion and no health care professionals can be forced to participate;
* two waiting periods must be observed; and the patient must self-administer the medication.
Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis, who also serves on the Ohio State Medical Board, said he isn’t surprised that Tavares, who supports access to abortions, is proposing this.
“Adding the phrase ‘death with dignity’ makes it no less suicide, and no less murder — although it makes it appear compassionate,” he said. “Suicide is always as morally objectionable as murder. Of course, advances in pain management now make it possible to control pain appropriately in dying patients.”
He added: “I’m sure her legislation will go nowhere in our pro-life legislature.”
Tavares said in a news release that Oregon’s law has worked effectively and safely for 20 years and that six other states are currently considering similar legislation.
The American Medical Association Code of Medical Ethics opposes physician-assisted suicide, saying permitting it “would ultimately cause more harm than good.”