Politics & Policy

The Corner

Utah Bill: Assisted Suicide = Manslaughter

A bill to explicitly criminalize assisted suicide has passed its first committee hurdle. 

The bill would add to the definition of “manslaughter” the act of providing the means for someone to commit suicide with knowledge of the suicidal person’s intent to act lethally. From HB 86:

(a) “Aids” means the act of providing the physical means.

(b) “Aids” does not include the withholding or withdrawal of life sustaining treatment…

[(1)] (2) Criminal homicide constitutes manslaughter if the actor… (b) intentionally, and with knowledge that another individual intends to commit suicide or attempt to commit suicide, aids the other individual to commit suicide.

There should also be a provision added that prescribing aggressive pain controlling drugs without the intent to cause death does not constitute the crime if the patient dies as an unintended side effect, along the lines of the Pain Relief Promotion Act passed by Rhode Island years ago (as one example). It is worth noting that after that bill became law, Rhode Island’s standing as a good state for palliative care soared.

One member who voted against the bill in committee is probably a yes vote if that kind of protection is included. It should be. So I say, amend the bill accordingly.

And don’t give me the word engineering garbage that assisted suicide when committed by a doctor at the request of a terminally ill patient is actually “aid in dying.” Come to think of it, the bill should make that point explicitly clear as well. Why should a doctor have the right to assist a suicide–which, after all, doesn’t take any medical skill–and not me? 

Then, pass the bill!

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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