Saturday, May 28, 2011

New Hampshire Defeats Assisted Suicide, Again

By Margaret Dore

On March 16, 2011, the New Hampshire House of Representatives defeated an Oregon-style physician-assisted suicide bill.  The bill, HB 513, was defeated on the House floor 234 to 99.  The bill had previously been defeated in the House Judiciary Committee 15 to 1The majority committee report gives these reasons for the defeat: 

"[T]his bill would legalize state-sanctioned suicide for people with terminal illnesses and that this is an area where government does not belong.  People with terminal illnesses who may consider suicide do not need encouragement from the government.  The committee further believes that this bill is a recipe for elder abuse.  The committee also recognizes that doctors’ diagnoses and predictions may be incorrect; numerous cases exist where people have lived far beyond their doctor’s predictions, some of them having been cured from their terminal disease.  For these reasons, the committee strongly believes that this bill represents bad policy and practice and recommend inexpedient to legislate."

House Journal, Vol. 33, No. 28 (scroll down to HB 513) .

A public Judiciary Committee Hearing had been held on February 28, 2011.  At that time, committee members focused on letters from Oregon doctors Charles Bentz, Ken Stevens and William Toffler.  

During this same hearing, former New Hampshire State Representative Nancy Elliott testified in person.  Washington State attorney Margaret Dore testified in person and presented this analysis.  There were other presentations and written submissions.

In 2010, the New Hampshire House of Representatives had defeated a similar bill, HB 304.  The vote then was 242-113 on the house floor and 14 to 3 in the House Judiciary Committee.  At that time, both the House and the House Judiciary Committee were controlled by the Democratic Party.