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Delaware Residents Urge State Legislators to Pass End of Life Options Act

Compassion & Choices and Rep. Paul Baumbach at lobby day push for medical aid-in-dying bill before full House vote

Compassion & Choices and its Delaware supporters today met with Delaware legislators at the state Capitol today to urge them to authorize the end-of-life care option of medical aid in dying. Medical aid in dying gives mentally capable, terminally ill individuals with a prognosis of six months or less to live the option to request, obtain and self-ingest medication to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable.

The bill, the End-of-Life Options Act (HB 160), is authored by Rep. Paul Baumbach (23rd district) and three co-sponsors, Rep. Bryon Short (7th district), Sen. David Sokola (8th district) and Sen. Margaret Henry (2nd district). The legislation passed out of the House Health and Human Development Committee by an 8 – 6 vote on June 7. The Committee vote to advance the bill clears the way for the full Delaware House of Representatives to consider it.

“What brought me here today is my desire to make a difference with the limited time I have left,” stated Wilmington resident, Tom LaFollette, who is living with Kaposi’s sarcoma, a terminal, opportunistic infection from HIV/AIDS. “I wanted to let my legislators know that for terminally ill, mentally capable residents of Delaware, this issue is not a matter of ‘policy;’ it is ‘personal.’”

“If our lawmakers don’t act to support this bill now, next year might be too late for me, as well as the countless others who await this decision,” added LaFollette. “The End of Life Options Act will provide great comfort to many people whose sole wish is to have more options at end of life.”

“While we recognize it can be difficult to talk about death and dying, it’s critically important to help lawmakers understand the real stories of real Delawareans and address concerns they may have,” said Tim Appleton, multi-state campaign and outreach manager at Compassion & Choices. “Lawmakers should understand the very real human cost of legislative inaction on the Delaware End of Life Options Act. Many of our advocates will not be able to come back next year. For them, next year will be too late.”

“As a spiritual leader and church pastor, it is my belief that when suffering and incapacity induced by terminal illness overwhelm our ability to bear it, a compassionate
alternative must be available to us. That is why I support medical aid in dying,” said the Rev. Cynthia Robinson, pastor of the New Ark United Church of Christ in Newark, DE. “Dying must be embraced as a natural part of life and we must promote understanding and acceptance of diverse spiritual beliefs related to end-of-life decisions.”

If HB 160 is enacted into law, it would make Delaware the eighth jurisdiction in the nation to authorize medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option. Oregon, where medical aid in dying has been authorized for two decades, has been joined since then by Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado and Washington, DC.