Death with Dignity: Michigan Senate Bill Would Legalize Medical Suicide

A bill introduced in the Michigan Senate would legalize medical suicide, also known as assisted dying or death with dignity. The bill, named the Death with Dignity Act, would allow terminally ill patients who are 18 years of age or older to request medication to end their lives voluntarily.

“All individuals have a fundamental right to dignity,” said Senator Veronica Klinefelt, the bill’s sponsor. “This legislation will finally provide Michiganders facing terminal illness with the freedom they deserve to write the final chapter of their own story with grace.”

Patients would be able to request medication either orally or in writing. Two witnesses would need to sign off on the request, and the patient would also need to undergo two mental health evaluations to ensure that they are mentally competent to make the decision.

If someone forges a patient’s request for medication, they could face a felony charge of up to 20 years in prison or a fine of up to $375,000.

Michigan would be the eleventh state to legalize medical suicide if the bill passes. The other states that currently allow the practice are California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

Here are some additional details about the bill:

  • The bill would require patients to be terminally ill with a life expectancy of six months or less.
  • Patients would need to make two written requests for medication, spaced two weeks apart.
  • The prescribing physician would be required to consult with a second physician to confirm the patient’s diagnosis and prognosis.
  • The medication would be dispensed by a pharmacist and could only be taken by the patient at home.

The bill is currently under consideration in the Michigan Senate. It is unclear whether the bill will pass, but it has the support of some Democratic and Republican lawmakers.

How is medically assisted suicide conducted?

Medically assisted suicide, also known as aid in dying or death with dignity, is a process in which a person with a terminal illness is given medication to end their life voluntarily. The medication used for medically assisted suicide is typically a barbiturate or neuromuscular relaxant.

To find out if your doctor provides medically assisted suicide, you should discuss end-of-life goals with them. Your doctor will then determine if you meet the criteria for medically assisted suicide, which is based on the law in the state where you live. If you qualify, your doctor will write an end-of-life prescription.

Once you have an end-of-life prescription, you can take the medication at home or in another private setting. It is important to note that taking the medication in a public place is strongly discouraged. You should also be aware that certain states have different guidelines and stipulations for this.

If you are considering medically assisted suicide, it is important to talk to your doctor and make sure that you are making an informed decision. You should also discuss your end-of-life goals with your family and friends.

Proposed Regulations for Medical Assisted Suicide in Michigan

If a bill to legalize medical assisted suicide passes in Michigan, the following regulations would be in place:

  • Medical Proof of Terminal Illness: Patients must provide medical proof that they have a terminal illness with a life expectancy of six months or less.

  • Patient Autonomy: The patient must voluntarily make the decision to end their life and must be mentally competent to do so.

  • 15-Day Waiting Period: After requesting medication to end their life, patients must wait 15 days before receiving the prescription.

  • Physician Licensing and Protections: Physicians who prescribe medication for medical assisted suicide must be licensed and meet certain requirements. They will also be protected from civil or criminal liability if they follow the prescribed procedures.

  • Criminal Penalties for Noncompliance: Physicians who do not comply with the regulations for medical assisted suicide may face criminal penalties.

  • Methods of Administration: Physicians are not allowed to administer lethal injections or large doses of painkillers to end a patient’s life. Patients will self-administer the prescribed medication.

These regulations are designed to ensure that medical assisted suicide is conducted in a safe and ethical manner. They also protect the rights of patients and physicians.

Michigan’s History with Medical Assisted Suicide

Michigan has a long history of debate over the legalization of medical assisted suicide. In 1998, the case of Dr. Jack Kevorkian, a Michigan physician who supported and actively promoted medical assisted suicide, brought national attention to the issue. In the same year, Michigan voters rejected a ballot initiative to legalize physician-assisted suicide.

More recently, in 2017, an aid-in-dying bill, HB4461, failed to pass in the Michigan House of Representatives. However, public opinion on medical assisted suicide has shifted in recent years. A 2018 Gallup survey found that 72% of Americans support voluntary physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, with 89% of liberals and 54% of conservatives approving of the practice. In Michigan, a Compassion & Choices survey found that 73% of residents support medical aid in dying.

The current bill to legalize medical assisted suicide in Michigan is sponsored by Democratic lawmakers. The bill’s opponents include the Right to Life of Michigan and the Michigan Catholic Conference. Public hearings on the bill are expected to take place in the coming year.


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