Alaska House Health & Social Services Committee Approves Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation

January 31, 2018

Compassion & Choices today praised the Alaska House Health & Social Services Committee for voting 5-2 to approve the End-of-Life Option Act, House Bill 54, which would authorize medical aid in dying in Alaska.

Medical aid in dying is a medical practice which gives mentally capable, terminally ill adult state residents with six months or fewer to live the option to get prescription medication they can decide to self-ingest to peacefully end unbearable suffering.

“We are thrilled that the House Health & Social Services Committee voted on a bipartisan basis to approve this important end-of-life option,” said Joe Barnes, Regional Campaign Manager for Compassion & Choices. “We will work to continue to build support in the legislature for this compassionate legislation.”

“House Bill 54 would give peace of mind to all Alaskans facing terminal diagnoses,” said Ella Saltonstall, Kodiak Alaska Action Team Leader for Compassion & Choices. “This law would simply give a compassionate end-of-life care option to those who face suffering in their final days.”

The legislation now will now move forward to the House Judiciary Committee. House Bill 54 was introduced by Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage).

Earlier this month, the Girdwood, Alaska Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to endorse medical aid-in-dying legislation.

Medical aid in dying has broad bipartisan support both in Alaska and across the country. According to a 3rd quarter 2017 Alaska Research Survey, 70 percent of Alaskans voters agreed that: “…a person in Alaska who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has been given a prognosis by two physicians of less than six months to live, should have the legal right to end their life on their own terms, through the use of a doctor’s prescription.”

According to a 2017 Gallup poll, 73 percent of Americans agreed that: “When a person has a disease that cannot be cured…doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient’s life by some painless means if the patient and his or her family request it,”

A fall 2016 Medscape online survey of thousands of physicians nationwide showed they supported medical aid in dying by a 2-1 margin, 57% to 29%.

If Alaska enacts medical aid-in-dying legislation into law, it would join six other states and the District of Columbia in authorizing this end-of-life care option. Medical aid in dying has a combined 40 years of safe use in seven authorized jurisdictions, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado and the District of Columbia.

Compassion & Choices
Media Contacts

Sean Crowley
Media Relations Director
[email protected]

Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
[email protected]
(323) 819 0310

Compassion & Choices
8156 S Wadsworth Blvd #E-162
Littleton, CO 80128

Mail contributions directly to:
Compassion & Choices Gift Processing Center
PO Box 485
Etna, NH 03750