Ushering in Physician Assisted Suicide (HB 291)

The New Hampshire House in March voted 214-140 to pass HB 291, establishing a committee to study end-of-life care. Sponsors of the bill made clear when the bill was introduced that if passed, the study committee would consider assisted suicide as one type of “care.” Similar legislation has been before this body before and was vetoed twice by then-Governor Hassan.

When the bill was in House committee, the majority voted “ought to pass.” A minority on the committee recommended an amendment to the bill to preserve the intent of studying palliative and other end-of-life care, while excluding any possibility of the bill being used to advance assisted suicide.

Cornerstone would have supported HB 291 with the amendment. End-of-life studies that do not explicitly rule out the legalization of physician-assisted suicide are causes for concern. Such studies open the door to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

Cornerstone has always advocated the dignity of all human life. Physician-assisted suicide is contrary to human dignity. Allowing those who are suffering the option of ending their life instead suggests that their lives are worth less than others. It is a false form of mercy, and a counterfeit of real compassion.

It is also a dangerously attractive method of controlling health care costs. In states where assisted suicide has been legalized, some people facing chronic or terminal illness have reported that their health insurers will cover lethal drugs but not ongoing care.  

By rejecting the minority amendment, the House majority has made clear its intent to promote physician assisted suicide under the guise of “study.” If the Senate decides to follow the same course, HB 291 will deserve a veto from the governor.