HB86: Assisted suicide bill passes in committee

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Rep. Michael McKell, R-Spanish Fork, proposed an assisted suicide bill in last year’s general session of the Utah Legislature, but it did not pass in time before the session ended. (Savannah Hopkinson)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bill that would consider assisted suicide manslaughter passed 6-4 in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee Jan. 25. 

HB86, sponsored by Rep. Michael McKell, R-Spanish Fork, received both support and opposition during the committee meeting.

McKell spoke of Spanish Fork teenager Jchandra Brown, who took her own life with the help of an 18-year-old acquaintance in October 2017.

“It’s going to provide prosecutors with a tool to seek justice when these type of heinous events happen,” McKell said.

Many committee and audience members voiced concerns about how the bill would affect the relationship between patients and health care providers.

Some supported the bill with the condition it would be amended to allow health care providers to ease the pain of dying patients without being convicted of manslaughter.

Committee member Rep. Rebecca Edwards, R-North Salt Lake, would not support the bill as it is currently written.

“I’m a no vote because of my concerns, but if those are addressed, I may end up supporting it on the floor,” Edwards said.

Many also stepped forward to testify about the rising problem of suicide and the value of life.

“Life is good, every day is a gift,” said Laura Bunker, who represented Family Policy Resource. “We don’t end suffering by intentionally ending the sufferer, and that’s why we support this bill.”

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