Rhode Island House Health Committee Holds Hearing on Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation

Bill supporters, terminally ill residents testify in favor of the Lila Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act
April 5, 2018

Compassion & Choices and Rhode Island supporter advocates urged the Rhode Island House Health, Education and Welfare Committee to pass the Lila Manfield Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act (H 7297). The bill would authorize medical aid in dying, which gives mentally capable, terminally ill individuals with a prognosis of six months or less to live the option to request, obtain and self-ingest medication to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Edith Ajello (Providence) and four cosponsors. It is based on Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which has been successfully implemented for more than 20 years with no record of abuse or misuse.

“The Lila Manfield Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act would simply provide an end-of-life care option to Rhode Island residents suffering in the final days of their lives,” Ajello said. “This bill contains safeguards to ensure that only terminally ill adult state residents with the capacity to direct their medical care can use this option.”

Advocates from across the state attended the hearing, with many testifying and delivering personal stories of why lawmakers should act urgently to pass medical aid-in-dying legislation to benefit terminally ill Rhode Island residents.

Cranston RI resident Debbie Flitman testified before the committee: “Those seeking the option of medical aid in dying want to live. But they know their condition will eventually kill them, and they want the option of avoiding unnecessary suffering,” Ms. Flitman said.

“We commend the committee for examining this important legislation,” said Marie Manis, Rhode Island Campaign Manager for Compassion & Choices. “We call on the legislature to pass this bill now, because terminally ill Rhode Islanders won’t be able to wait until next year to take advantage of this option.”

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VICTORY: Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed the improved End-of-Life Options Act.

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