Assisted suicide bill set to come before Nevada lawmakers

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The debate over physician-assisted suicide is expected to return to the Nevada Legislature on Monday, less than two years after the measure failed to become law.

Lawmakers are scheduled to hear a bill on Monday that would allow terminally ill patients to kill themselves with medication prescribed by a doctor. Supporters argue it will let the patients die with dignity and no longer suffer in agonizing pain.

“Right now, people who really want to end their life, some of them are ending it in some very brutal ways,” said state Sen. Pat Spearman, a primary sponsor of the legislation.

Spearman and 16 others have signed onto the bill in support. Nevada would become the seventh state to pass the legislation, according to the Death with Dignity National Center, a non-profit organization that promotes the laws.

Under the legislation, the medication would only be provided to adults who are diagnosed to be within six-months of death and are of “sound mental health.”

Dr. T. Brian Callister, who is part of a coalition against the legislation, says the bill would give a “perverse financial” incentive to insurance companies. The companies, he said, will be given the opportunity to defer to physician-assisted suicide instead of paying for higher cost life-saving and life-sustaining treatments.

Callister acknowledged supporters have personal experiences of loved ones who have suffered tremendous pain near the end of life. But, he said, advancements in medicine and treatment have given physicians the ability to control those pains.

Spearman said the legislation will probably pass because people have more knowledge and understanding on the topic.

Yeager said there is a new cohort of legislators in the Assembly and he’s hopeful the legislation will be approved this time around.

“It is a very personal issue for members,” he said. “Probably this is something that’s more personal than most bills.”


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