Home Our Diocese Delaware House committee OKs physician-assisted suicide measure which Gov. John Carney has...

Delaware House committee OKs physician-assisted suicide measure which Gov. John Carney has opposed

A woman is pictured in a file photo holding a sign during a rally against physician-assisted suicide on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario. Canadian bishops urged political leaders to reconsider changes in a bill that would expand physician-assisted suicide. (CNS photo/Art Babych)

The Delaware House committee for health and human development May 16 passed to the full House the state’s most recent attempt to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

House Bill 140 “permits a terminally ill individual who is an adult resident of Delaware to request and self-administer medication to end the individual’s life.”

The committee voted to move the bill forward after dozens of people testified advocating for either side of the issue.

Primary sponsor for the bill was longtime supporter of the effort Rep. Paul Baumbach. After being voted out of committee, the bill is part of the House agenda.

The Diocese of Wilmington was among the groups opposing the bill, which included other faith organizations and medical professional associations.

“The position of the church on this issue is well-established,” said Joseph Fitzgerald, a lobbyist for the diocese in testimony offered to the committee. “In addition to the church’s deeply held theological convictions on this question, we have profound concerns about this legislation which are shared by many secular organizations and citizens of all faiths, and many who do not practice a faith, who oppose this legislation.

“House Bill 140 would fundamentally change Delaware’s legal approach to medical ethics, medical practice, and health care decision-making. The Psychiatric Society of Delaware, the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians also oppose involving practitioners of the healing arts in the intentional ending of a person’s life by medically assisted suicide, also known as medical aid in dying.”

The physician-assisted suicide legislation in Delaware has had numerous pushes in the last several years, including last year when it also passed through the House committee but was never offered for a full vote. It was removed from the House agenda last May.

In a statement before the committee vote last year, Gov. John Carney said he would not support the measure.

“I know this is an extremely difficult and personal issue for many of my constituents, and I have sympathy and compassion for those who are grappling with these painful questions,” Carney said in a January 2022 statement. “Ultimately, though, I believe enabling physicians to facilitate suicide crosses a boundary that I’m just not comfortable crossing.”

A message left May 16 with Carney’s office was not immediately returned.