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MI Senate Democrats introduce "Death with Dignity" bills

A nurse caring for a patient.
Kawee - stock.adobe.com
A nurse caring for a patient.

A group of state senators in Michigan has introduced bills they say would allow terminally ill patients to choose death with dignity, by providing the option for death via prescribed medication in certain circumstances.

The Democratic senators say their bills have one goal: allowing people facing a terminal diagnosis to “end their lives peacefully on their own timeline.” They argue it’s a matter of human dignity and compassion to offer people in those circumstances the option to end their lives without pain, when they choose to do so.

But there would be limits on that. The option would only be available to patients expected to die within six months, and who are judged mentally capable of making that decision. There would also be a 15-day waiting period from when a patient officially requests a medication-assisted death.

“So many of us share the painful experience of having witnessed a loved one suffer, knowing they could have benefited from an expanded end-of-life care option. Patients deserve the trust and respect to make their own medical decisions, including the choice to determine their own timeline to end ongoing suffering during the oftentimes dark battle they face,” said Senator Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford Twp.), lead sponsor of the bill package. “The Death with Dignity Act honors the autonomy and dignity of every person, ensuring they maintain power in the entirety of their life. This is a compassionate policy that would provide Michiganders and their loved ones with peace of mind when facing terminal illness.” 

“Granting individuals the autonomy to choose dignified end of life care is not just an act of compassion but a testament to the value of personal freedom,” added Senator Sam Singh (D-East Lansing). “This legislation offers the solace of choice, while also providing critical safeguards to ensure its application is safe and protects our most vulnerable patients.”

The practice is currently illegal in Michigan. In the 1990s, then-Michigan Governor John Engler signed a law banning physician-assisted death in Michigan. The bills are expected to garner opposition from groups like Right to Life of Michigan and the Catholic Church, which strongly oppose the practice.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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