Delaware House Committee Passes Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill; HB 140 Now Moves to Full House Debate

May 18, 2023

Graphic-only image with Compassion & Choices' logo and Compassion & Choices Action Network logo

The Ron Silverio/Heather Block Delaware End of Life Options Act (HB140), which would permit medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults in Delaware, was Tuesday voted out of the House Health and Human Development committee. The bill now moves to the full House, where it will be debated and must be passed before it can move to the Senate.

Compassion & Choices President & CEO, Kim Callinan

Compassion & Choices President & CEO, Kim Callinan

“Delaware residents are one step closer to having the same rights to bodily autonomy as citizens in New Jersey, Washington D.C. and nine other states– the right to choose among all end-of-life care alternatives, including medical aid in dying,” said primary bill sponsor Rep. Paul Baumbach (D-District 23). “This legislation allows mentally sound, terminally ill adults the option to obtain prescription medication they could decide to take to end unbearable suffering. Knowing they have the option of medical aid in dying is a great comfort to many terminally ill patients, whether they ultimately choose to act on that option or not.”

The bill has support from every member of Democratic caucus leadership and a record number of 13 co-sponsors and three additional sponsors, Majority Leader Sen. Bryan Townsend (D-District 11), House Majority Whip Rep. Melissa Minor-Brown (D-District 17), Rep. Eric Morrison (D-District 27). Co-Sponsors include Speaker of the House, Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf (D-District 14), House Majority Leader, Rep. Valerie Longhurst (D-District 15), Senate President Pro Tempore, Sen. David Sokola (D-District 8), Sen. Kyra Hoffner (D-District 14), Sen. Russell Huxtable (D-District 6), Sen. Elizabeth Lockman (D-District 3), Sen. Sarah McBride (D-District 1), Rep. Edward Osienski (D-District 24) and Rep. Kimberly Williams (D-District 14).

A majority of Delaware voters say they support the option of medical aid in dying. In a 2020 survey,* 72% of Delawareans surveyed said they support legislation that would allow medical aid in dying in Delaware; notably, voter support crossed demographic, geographic, and political lines across the state. In addition, a 2022 survey** found that nearly three-in-four (74%) Delaware physicians support medical-aid-in-dying legislation, and 70% said they would want the option of medical aid in dying for themselves, if necessary.

The proposed bill would permit a mentally capable, terminally ill adult Delawarean the option to request and self-ingest prescription medication to peacefully end their suffering. The legislation stipulates a wide range of safeguards, including a requirement that two healthcare providers certify that a patient has a prognosis of six months or less to live, and that makes it a crime to coerce a terminally ill person into using medical aid in dying.

The bill is named in honor of two Delaware advocates for passing this legislation, Dover resident Ron Silverio and Lewes resident Heather Block, both of whom died in 2018 after extended needless suffering because they did not have the option of medical aid in dying.

“Physicians have a duty to relieve the suffering of patients with terminal diseases,” said Dover neurologist Robert Varipapa, MD, voicing his opinion. “Hospice and palliative care do not relieve suffering for every terminal patient. Medical aid in dying should be an end-of-life choice for patients to peacefully decide to end their suffering when there is no other effective option.”

“Delaware residents Ron Silverio and Heather Block knew their diseases almost always ended with a period of pain and suffering. They worked hard for medical aid in dying legislation but died after enduring needless, prolonged suffering without the option they both desperately wanted. Passage of this act will honor the efforts of these two brave Delawareans,” said Kim Callinan, President & CEO of Compassion & Choices, which is leading a grassroots campaign to pass the Ron Silverio/Heather Block Delaware End of Life Options Act.

*For more information about the 2020 Delaware medical-aid-in-dying survey, visit:

https://compassionandchoices.org/resource/delaware-polling-2020/

**To see the results of the 2022 Physicians Poll, visit:

https://www.compassionandchoices.org/docs/default-source/delaware/delaware-doctor-survey-detailed-tables.pdf

For background information and an FAQ about medical aid in dying, visit: https://compassionandchoices.org/resource/frequently-asked-questions/

The Compassion & Choices family comprises two organizations: Compassion & Choices (the 501(c)(3)), whose focus is expanding access, public education and litigation; and Compassion & Choices Action Network (the 501(c)(4)), whose focus is legislative work at the federal and state levels.

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