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Upcoming events in Northwest Indiana to discuss medical aid in dying

This story originally appeared on http://www.nwitimes.com/

Bev Hmurovic wants to have a conversation about a topic not a lot of people want to talk about: dying.

Specifically, she wants to engage the public in a discussion about the benefits of medical aid in dying. She will be participating in two free public events this month to educate people on the topic.

“We think it’s purely up to individuals to decide what’s the best option for them,” said Hmurovic, president of Compassion and Choices of Indiana, a group that advocates for legalizing medical aid in dying. “It’s about making this option available to people.”

Medical aid in dying, also known as death with dignity, allows terminally ill, mentally capable adults who have six months or less to live to request a prescription from their doctor to end their life. The practice is available in six states  — California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington — and the District of Columbia. Legislation was introduced into the Indiana House and Senate this year but didn’t advance out of committee. The proposals are expected to be submitted again in 2018.

Thursday’s event at Indiana University Northwest in Gary will be a debate between Hmurovic and Dan Lowery, former IUN School of Public and Environmental Affairs faculty member and recently retired chancellor of Calumet College of St. Joseph, who opposes medical aid in dying. Anja Matwijkiw, IUN professor of professional ethics and human rights, will join the panel as well.

Opponents of the practice are against it on religious grounds or because they say it is essentially assisted suicide.

An Oct. 24 program at Hammond Public Library, Medical Aid in Dying: A Compassionate Choice, aims to educate the community on the the topic and the efforts of Compassion and Choices to pass legislation to allow this option in Indiana.

Hmurovic, of Whiting, noted that in a May 2015 Gallup Values and Beliefs Survey, nearly 7 in 10 Americans agreed that “individuals who are terminally ill, in great pain and who have no chance for recovery have the right to choose to end their own life.” According to Gallup, that support rose nearly 20 percent in two years to the highest level in more than a decade, while support among people aged 18 to 34 climbed 19 points that year, to 81 percent.