State lawmaker files ‘physician-assisted suicide’ bill

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Whether it’s referred to as “physician assisted suicide,” “death with dignity,” or the “right to die,” there’s no escaping the controversy surrounding legislation that would allow those with terminal illnesses to request life-ending medication.

Now, State Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) is hoping to bring such a piece of legislation to Indiana.

During a press conference on Thursday, Pierce announced that he had filed an “end of life option” bill. A second attempt by Pierce, who filed a similar bill last year.

“I think most legislators recognize there’s some controversy around this type of bill, and quite honestly they’re nervous about getting out in front of it,” Pierce said.

Pierce says the current version of the bill is modeled after the state of Oregon’s end of life option law. If the bill passes, Indiana would be the sixth to adopt such a law, joining Oregon, California, Colorado, Vermont, and Washington D.C.

According to Pierce, the process for pursuing a life-ending prescription would boil down to roughly 10 steps. Those steps would include:

  1. A physician diagnosis of terminal illness
  2. A prognosis of death within six months
  3. A written request to the department of health
  4. Two witnesses and a physician to confirm patient is competent and acting of their own free will
  5. Physician provided alternatives and identification of potential risks
  6. Informed consent
  7. A 15-day waiting period
  8. A second written request
  9. A Second physician certification
  10. Attending physician can then prescribe life-ending medication.

After the life ending medication is prescribed, the bill would mandate that the medicine be self-administered.

“Any person coercing someone into this, administering the medication with the intent to cause the death of somebody, that would be a level one felony, kind of the equivalent of murder,” Pierce said.

According to a Gallup poll taken in 2015, nearly 70 percent of Americans are in favor of physician-assisted suicide.