Our state has just finished the first two weeks of the 2018 legislative session.  So far, in 2018, there have been 726 bills introduced.  One that stood out to me, because of my area of practice, was HB 2102, affecting ARS Title 36.  The bill relates to end of life decisions for the terminally ill and carries the proposed short title “Death with Dignity Act of 2018.”

Representative Pamela Powers Hannley, the representative for District 9, was the first sponsor for HB 2102.  Under the bill, a “qualified patient” is permitted to make a written request for medication to end the patient’s life. A qualified patient is defined as: “a capable adult who has resided in this state for at least ninety days and who has satisfied the requirements of the article in order to obtain a prescription to end the patient’s life.”  “Terminal condition” means: “a condition that results from an accident or an incurable and irreversible disease, that has been medically confirmed and that will cause death, with reasonable medical judgement, within six months.

This bill establishes a process for the medication request, with a requirement for it to be signed and witnessed by at least two persons meeting specified requirements. The bill establishes procedures for the attending physician and a consulting physician and requires a 15-day waiting period. It also addresses the effect on construction of wills and contracts, issuance of insurance and annuity policies, and penalties for coercion.

Currently, there are five states, plus Washington DC, with so-called “death with dignity” or “physician assisted suicide” laws.  They are: California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. In Montana, physician-assisted dying is legal by State Supreme Court ruling.  We’ll be watching this bill closely as it moves through the legislative process.

-Andrea Claus, Esq.