VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – A proposed Senate bill would make medically assisted dying legal in Virginia.
The bill, SB 930 , is sponsored by Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (D-Dist. 10) and Sen. Jennifer Boysko (D-Dist. 33). The bill will go before the full Committee on Education and Health Thursday.
During a press conference about the bill Tuesday, Hashmi outlined what would be permitted under the proposed legislation.
Patients with a terminal diagnosis with less that six months to live would be eligible. The patient would need to request medication that they administer to themselves. There would be a 15-day waiting period, after which they would need to request the medication again.
“This bill protects those individuals who may be vulnerable,” Hashmi said. “It does not leave the door open to those who are suffering from depression or those who’re disabled.”
Barbara Green, a cancer patient in Falls Church, said she was told she has only months to live. She said that she plans to move to Washington, D.C., where medically assisted dying is legal.
“Knowing that medical aid in dying will be available to me as I move to D.C. gives me some sense of control over a very uncontrollable illness that has no cure and kills 95 percent of victims fairly quickly,” Green said.
She said she watched her late husband deteriorate after suffering from esophageal cancer.
“He spent the last several months of his life in bed, worrying that he would choke to death as esophageal patients do,” Green said. “Think about it. If you had the choice of possibly choking to death or dying peacefully from a medication you take yourself, which would you choose?”
Hashmi acknowledged the substantial opposition to the Die with Dignity movement. Last week in a subcommittee meeting, it was recommended to pass by the bill indefinitely.
Bill Fertig is a an advocate with a group opposed to medical assistance in dying in Virginia Beach. Fertig, who is paralyzed from a spinal cord injury, cautions that doctor’s prognosis are sometimes wrong.
“Anecdotally, we all have heard of circumstances where the doctors gave me three months to live but that was five years ago,” Fertig said. “It has a fundamental flaw in assuming that someone only has six months to live.
“I would argue that if we examine the existing palliative care provided in hospice care at the end of one’s life cycle, maybe we should be beefing that up as indicated, where we find problems.”