House committee pushes right to die discussion off for another day

- SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) The right to die is a controversial debate across the country and a local lawmaker says it's time to begin the discussion in Utah.

House Bill 391, the Utah Death with Dignity Act was presented to the House Health and Human Services Committee Thursday evening.

Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck is the sponsor.

She says the bill is inspired by a young California woman who moved to Oregon, a right to die state to end her life last year.

The bill would apply to Utahns who are suffering from a terminal illness and have been given 6 months or less to live.

If they have approval from an attending and consulting physician and meet other requirements they would be eligible for the life ending prescription.

Health care providers would not be held liable criminally or civilly and it would not validate a life insurance policy or annuity.

The committee heard emotional testimony in favor of the bill from a mother who recently lost her 21 year old son and opponents of the bill.

"He died in our house, surrounded by loved ones after suffering for a week. The last 24 hours were hell. He was so sick, throwing up blood, yelling out ouch in pain all night long," said Melissa Oligario.

"This bill if made into law would speak volumes about the worth of a life by implying a person’s life is less important if they are not healthy. We urge you to please vote no on this bill," said Kristina Eberle, with United Families International.

The Catholic Diocese also spoke in opposition of the bill.

They are concerned about the message of suicide it sends and say natural death is dignity.

Committee voted to send this bill to interim so they can have more time to study it.

That means it will not move forward this session, but it will be picked up at a later time.

Chavez-Houck knows this is going to be a long journey and starting the discussion is what she wanted to do.

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