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Mixed reaction to Nevada aid-in-dying bill

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 10:16 PM PDT
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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - A proposed bill could give Nevadans the right to control the end of their lives. The first hearing on Assembly Bill 351 took place virtually on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. Testimony on the measure was split down the middle.

“I don’t take this conversation lightly.”

Assemblyman Edgar Flores, (D) Nevada and AB351 Sponsor

The ‘End of Life Options Act’ hits home for its sponsor Assemblyman Edgar Flores after he lost a family member to an incurable disease.

“It was obviously very devastating and incredibly difficult, but more importantly he fought every second,” Assemblyman Flores said, “This goes to the very core of our individual rights to be able to say I no longer wish to suffer anymore.”

AB351 would allow mentally capable, terminally ill patients six months or less to live to stop their suffering by taking medication to peacefully die in their sleep. The patients must make three requests, two verbal and one written, to receive the controlled substances.

Assemblyman Flores added, “This is not a question about choosing between living and dying; this bill is about having control and a choice at the moment of dying.”

Currently, nine states, along with Washington, D.C., have legalized the practice, and many are ready for Nevada to join them.

“The Nevada ‘End of Life Options Act’ is not murder nor is it suicide, it’s a plan for the eventuality of death which we all face,” a public speaker in support of the bill said.

Another supporter of the bill added, “Aid-in-dying laws open communications between the doctors and their patients to promote the right of the person to choose to keep living.”

Others disagree and claim there is too much room for abuse or that it’ll target the economically disadvantaged.

“It will change the standard of care when it makes assisted suicide ‘medical treatment,’” a public speaker in opposition of the bill said, “Suicide has never been a medical treatment.”

Another person who opposes AB351 added, “Assisted suicide gives insurance companies and governments the ability to save money by pushing lethal drugs that are less expensive than treatment. No trained medical personnel are required to be present at the time the lethal drugs are taken, creating the opportunity for an error or abuse of caregivers to coerce a patient to take the drug or put them in the patient’s food without their knowledge or consent.”

Senate Bill 165, a similar proposal, was presented in the state legislature in 2019, but it didn’t meet the deadline for passage in the full Senate. Assemblyman Flores says this law puts the decision in the hands of the people in pain.

If it passes, AB352 will progress to the assembly floor. It would then follow the same process in the senate and go to Governor Steve Sisolak’s desk to be signed into law.

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