By Desiree Williams
California, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, Colorado, Montana and Washington, D.C., are the only places in the U.S that offer medical aid in dying to patients. Medical aid in dying is an option to self-ingest medication to die peacefully. It is available for terminally ill, mentally capable adults with six months or less to live.
The Indiana chapter of Compassion and Choices wants to add Indiana to the list by passing legislation to give patients the option to request such medication.
“This type of thing gives you the choice, if you wish it, to end your pain and to have some choice in how you die,” said Bev Hmurovic, president of Compassion and Choices Indiana.
Compassion and Choices is a nation-wide, nonprofit dedicated to spreading awareness of alternatives and improving the care of those near death. The chapter will host an open meeting to explain medical aid in dying and the proposed legislation at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 at the John Hensel Government Center, 10701 N. College Ave.
In addition, Hmurovic said the meeting also will focus on the importance of having an advance directive to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances at any age.
The proposed legislation requires two physicians to confirm a six-month prognosis. It also requires the patient to sign the request form in front of two witnesses with no relation and then wait 15 days before filling out a second request form to continue the process.
Physicians will not be required to offer the medication as an option.
The legislation was introduced as H.B. 1561 in the House of Representatives Public Health Committee last year, sponsored by Rep. Matt Pierce. It also was introduced, but not heard, in the Senate Judiciary Committee, sponsored by Sen. Lonnie Randolph. Hmurovic said both officials plan to introduce the bill again in the 2018 session.
“The next step (is) we would like for it to be heard in the committee,” she said. “We just have to take it a step at a time to work on getting it passed.”