(Utah – Feb 25, 2016) This week, the The Utah Chapter of the Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities expressed its support for the End of Life Options Act (H.B. 264), a bill modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which would authorize terminally ill adults in Utah to seek medical aid in dying should their suffering become unbearable.
The LCDP-Utah is an organization that advocates for public policy affecting all people in Utah who have disabilities through lobbying, direct action, and policy advising.
In a letter to bill sponsor Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, the LCPD-Utah stated its support for the legislation:
“The Legislative Coalition for People with Disabilities…voted to support H.B. 264 End of Life Options Act at our February 22nd meeting. As you know, the disability community is divided on this issue and the vote was not unanimous. However, our by-laws require a bill to receive support from 90% of the members in attendance when a vote is taken. Support for H.B. 264 met the 90% threshold. The Coalition appreciates the efforts you have made to carefully draft a bill that provides a rigorous protocol with numerous safeguards for a competent adult who is terminally ill and requests medication for a death with dignity. ”
Support for aid-in-dying legislation within the LCDP-Utah exceeding 90% is significant, as it simultaneously confirms previous findings by Compassion & Choices, and disputes opposition claims that the disabilities community is collectively opposed to medical aid in dying. Three separate polls conducted in February, 2014 in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey, showed that disabled voters supported proposed aid-in-dying at 65%, 74% and 63% respectively.
We are optimistic that other disabilities advocacy groups and their membership will follow the lead of the LCPD-Utah, and support local and national medical aid in dying.