A Senate committee is being asked to take up a bill that would legalize physician assisted suicide.
The legislation allows terminally ill patients to request medication that would help them end their lives. State Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison), an author of the measure, says it allows a mentally competent person to make the request orally and in writing. Two doctors will have to sign off on the request, and will also have the ability to withdraw their approval during the process. Risser says it allows for a terminally ill patient to face death in a dignified manner.
The bill received a Capitol hearing on Wednesday, filled with emotional testimony. Juneau County District Attorney Scott Harold Southworth was among those speaking against it. He argued that opening the door to assisted suicide sends a bad message to the weak, vulnerable, and minorities of society. Southworth says the practice plants "the seeds of genocide."
However, Senator Risser says the issue at least deserves a closer look. Different versions of the bill have been introduced over the past 16 years, but each of them has failed to make it past a legislative committee.