Diverse coalition defeats proposal to expand so-called “right to die” and to remove all safeguards in Washington state

By Dave Andrusko

It was a close call, but the Washington state Senate adjourned this week without taking up HB 1141. Advertised by one highly sympathetic reporter  as ”making it easier for terminally ill, competent patients to use Washington state’s Death with Dignity Act,” in fact, HB1141 is riddled with dangerous provisions.

Congratulations to the broad-based coalition that fended off the latest attempt to endanger vulnerable populations.

Proponents followed the tried and true formula of adding “safeguards” to the original 2008 Initiative, and then attempting to take them away. As the Washington State Catholic Conference notes

In 2008 state voters approved Initiative 1000 (I-1000), the Physician-Assisted Death Initiative (also known as the Death With Dignity Act), but only after being assured that certain “safeguards” in I-1000 would protect against anyone making the irrevocable decision to kill themselves during a moment of depression or anxiety.  Among the safeguards promoted and promised to voters were a 15-day waiting period, supervision by doctors, and consultations with psychiatrists or psychologists.  

HB 1141 would have reduced the waiting period from 15 days to three days, expanded who could make terminal diagnoses and prescribe lethal drugs to include non-physicians, and taken away the requirement that the lethal drugs be obtained in person, allowing the drugs to be shipped by mail.

HB 1141 had passed the state House and a Senate committee, riding on the wave of favorable publicity and the deep pockets of the absurdly misnamed Compassion and Choices which said it had “worked hand-in-hand with End of Life Washington.”

The coalition, which included people in the disability rights, medical, right-to-life , and faith communities will be called on again as the Compassion & Choices Action Network  said it was “determined to continue this necessary work.”