The Senate narrowly approved the so-called right to die bill on Tuesday.
SB261 was approved 11-10 but the vote wasn’t completely party line.
In fact, two Democrats — Mo Denis and Aaron Ford — voted against the bill while one Republican — Pete Goicoechea — supported it.
And in another twist, one of the bill’s original sponsors, Republican Ben Kieckhefer of Reno, voted no.
Prime sponsor David Parks, D-Las Vegas, said the bill seeks to give terminally ill patients suffering in pain the right to end their lives. It authorizes patients diagnosed as terminal who are competent to make an informed and voluntary decision to end their own life to ask their doctor to prescribe drugs designed to kill them. They must administer the drugs to themselves.
It also protects those doctors and the pharmacists who provide the drugs from any legal action or action against their licenses.
Parks said a similar law has been in effect in Oregon for some 20 years and, despite concerns raised during hearings, hasn’t been abused and there has been no confirmed case of coercion. He said in fact, less than half those who sought the poisonous drugs ever used them.
He said what the law does is give those patients some control over their lives.
Goicoechea said he supports the measure because, “in the world I grew up in and live in it is something we deal with constantly.”
He said he has had a number of constituents over the years who took their own lives because they were dying.
“I believe in giving these people that option rather than a hose in the exhaust pipe or a gunshot,” he said.
Kieckhefer said he has sponsored similar legislation in the past believing it’s a case of individual liberty. But he said with this bill, “there is a lack of clarity.”
“I don’t necessarily trust doctors to tell me when I’m going to die,” he said.
Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, who’s a physician, agreed doctors aren’t good at predicting when someone will die but that he sees this bill as “a slippery slope” that could, next session, change to require doctors and others to participate in a patient’s right to die instead of leaving those decisions to the individuals.
“We do have the right to control our destiny,” said Sen. Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas adding his support for the bill.
Democrats Nicole Cannizzaro and Mark Manendo of Las Vegas both shared personal stories about the painful and drawn out deaths of their fathers. Cannizzaro said SB261 would give “a sense of comfort” for those individuals.
Manendo said his totally disabled father was “bed-ridden and praying to go with no option.”
The bill goes to the Assembly where several members have signed on as sponsors.