Since it was first made legal in Oregon in 1997, over 5,300 Americans have chosen medical suicide, according to a study in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. With 10 states, plus the District of Columbia, Michigan would be the eleventh state to legalize medically assisted suicide.
Senate Bills 678-681, named the "Death with Dignity Act," would allow any patient who is terminally ill and is 18 years and older to request a medication to voluntarily end their life.
Senator Veronica Klinefelt said, "All individuals have a fundamental right to dignity. This legislation will finally provide Michiganders facing terminal illness with the freedom they deserve to write the final chapter of their own story with grace."
Patients would be able to request medication orally or written. If someone forges a patients request, it would possibly result in a felony of 20 years in prison or a fine up to $375,000.
States that currently allow medically assisted suicide:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
How is medically assisted suicide conducted?
According to the Journal of Pain & Symptom Management, barbiturates and neuromuscular relaxants are the solutions used for euthanasia, the medication used for aided dying.
In order to find out if your doctor — hospice doctor, oncologist, pulmonologist, or neurologist — provides medical assistance in death, make an appointment and discuss end-of-life goals.
Then, your doctor will make sure you meet the criteria based on the law in the state. If you qualify, your doctor will write an end-or-life prescription.
According to the Death with Dignity website, where the patient takes the medication is up to them, although a public place is strongly discouraged. Certain states have different guidelines and stipulations for this as well.
If passed in Michigan, the regulations would include:
- Medical proof that the patient is terminally ill with less than six months to live.
- The patient must voluntarily be making the decision.
- There will be a 15-day waiting period.
- There sill be licensing requires, limitations, and protections for the physicians.
- There will be criminal penalties for physicians who do not comply with medical assisted suicide.
Physicians are not allowed to end a patient's life by lethal injection or a large dose of painkillers.
This isn't Michigan's first time attempt to legalize medical suicide
In 1998, Michigan doctor Jack Kevorkian, who supported and rallied for medical suicide — and who would eventually be imprisoned for second degree murder — was a hot topic nationwide. Stateside, in the same year, more than seven in 10 voters voted against a ballot initiative to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
And in 2017, an aid-in-dying bill, HB4461, died in the House Committee on Health Policy.
But by 2018, 72% of Americans supported voluntary physician-aided suicide for terminally ill patients. A Gallup survey found that 89% of liberals and 54% of conservatives approved of the practice.
According to Compassion & Choices, 73% of Michiganders support medical aid in dying.
All sponsors and co-sponsors of the legislation are Democrats. Their opponents are the Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference. As for now, hearings for next year have yet to be announced.