Seventy Three Percent of Nevadans Support Introduced Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill in Silver State

March 22, 2021

Civil Rights Activist Dolores Huerta with Nevada Assembly members Selena Torres, Susie Martinez and Edgar Flores.

The Nevada Coalition for Death With Dignity, a partnership between Compassion & Choices Action Network and the Death with Dignity National Center, today praised Assemblymember Edgar Flores and Sen. Dallas Harris (D-Las Vegas), along with 13  co-sponsors, for introducing the Nevada End of Life Options Act (A.B. 351), which would allow terminally ill, mentally capable adults the option to request and receive medication they may decide to take to relieve unbearable suffering.

“We are grateful to Assemblymember Flores and Senator Harris for listening to the voices of the majority of Nevadans,” said Sam DeWitt, Nevada Campaign Manager for Compassion & Choices Action Network. “The findings in today’s poll show a large majority of Nevadans want end-of-life options now. Terminally ill Nevadans cannot wait any longer to relieve their unbearable suffering.”

The bill introduction comes the day the Nevada Coalition for Death with Dignity released a poll that shows  nearly three out of four (73%) Nevada voters support medical aid in dying legislation, across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum. To see the poll, click HERE.

Support for this legislation is diverse: 73% of Hispanics/Latinos, 76% of African Americans, 67% of Catholics, 67% of non-denominational Christians, 74% of other religions continue to favor a medical aid-in-dying measure, revealed the poll conducted by Public Policy Polling.

Support for Nevada’s End of Life Options Act is high among nearly every demographic subgroup, including men, women, older voters, younger voters, whites and Latinos. There is also majority support across the partisan divide, with Democrats (80%), Republicans (65%), Libertarians (82%), Independents (62%) or other parties and all expressing majority support for such a law. The majority of voters surveyed in the poll were females (71% support) and males (74%)  – including 72% of people aged 46-65 and 73% of people aged 66 and older.

”Nevadans have spoken clearly about their support for the rights of the terminally ill,” said Peg Sandeen, Executive Director of the Death with Dignity National Center. “Nevada residents like Hanna Olivas have the right to make their own end of life choices, and this bill ensures that they do.”

The compassionate legislation is especially important to Hanna Olivas, a 46-year-old make-up artist and mother of four children, diagnosed with a rare form of incurable blood cancer, multiple myeloma, in August 2017, when  doctors gave her five years to live.

“Terminally-ill patients should not have to uproot, leave their state and family to die peacefully,” Hanna said from her home in Las Vegas. “I don’t have time to wait for another legislative session. We need end-of-life options now.”

Similar legislation has been introduced in past sessions. In 2017, the bill passed out of the Senate Health and Human Services committee 3-2 and then it passed the Senate 11-10 on a bipartisan vote. The Assembly Committee on Health and Human Services heard it but did not hold a vote before the session ended. Medical aid-in-dying legislation (SB 165) was reintroduced in 2019 by Senator David Parks and 16 cosponsors. The bill was passed by the Senate Health & Human Services Committee on March 20 with a 3-2 vote. The bill, along with many others, ran against the April 23 deadline for the “first house passage” and did not pass the Senate in time to advance further in the 2019 session.

Medical-aid-in-dying legislation is supported by a majority of Nevadans as well as state organizations, groups and chapters such as the ACLU, Nevada Association of Health Plans, National Association of Social Workers and the Nevada Libertarian Party. In addition, Nevada Medical Society adopted a neutral position on the bill, joining Nevada Psychiatric Association and Nevada State Board of Pharmacy.

Nine states that have authorized medical aid in dying include California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Maine, Montana (via state Supreme Court ruling), New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C. Collectively, these 10 jurisdictions represent one out of five U.S. residents (22%) and have decades of combined experience successfully implementing this medical practice.  Recently, the state of New Mexico passed legislation authorizing medical aid in dying in the state; it will go into effect in June, 2021.

Compassion & Choices is comprised of two organizations that improve care and expand options at life’s end: Compassion & Choices (501(c)(3)) educates, empowers, defends, and advocates; the Compassion & Choices Action Network (501(c)(4)) focuses exclusively on legislation, ballot campaigns, and limited electoral work. 

Paid for by Compassion & Choices Action Network.

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