Terminally Ill Advocates Urge Passage of Nevada’s End of Life Options Act
Compassionate Bill Would Allow a Peaceful Death Option for Terminally Ill Nevadans
April 7, 2021
(CARSON CITY, NV) The Nevada Coalition for Death With Dignity, a partnership between Compassion & Choices Action Network and the Death with Dignity National Center and terminally ill advocates, urged the Assembly Health & Human Services Committee to approve the End of Life Options Act (AB 351). The committee held a hearing today on the legislation introduced by Assemblymember Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas). It would allow terminally ill, mentally capable adults the option to request and receive medication they may decide to take to peacefully end unbearable suffering. A committee vote is expected before Friday.
“Nevadans with terminal conditions deserve the full range of end-of-life care options, including medical aid in dying,” said Sam DeWitt, Nevada Campaign Manager for Compassion & Choices Action Network. “We are grateful to Assemblymember Flores for his continuing dedication to passing this compassionate, urgent legislation to ease the suffering of terminally ill Nevadans.”
According to a new survey conducted last month by Public Policy Polling, three out of four (73%) Nevada voters support medical aid in dying legislation, across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum:
- 76% of African American people
- 73% of Hispanic people
- 72% of White people
- 68% of other races
- 71% of Protestants
- 67% of Catholics
- 67% of non-denominational Christians
- 74% of other religions
- 80% of Democrats
- 65% of Republicans
- 82% of Libertarians
- 62% of other party members or Independents .
“The End of Life Options Act is very-well crafted legislation with very strict safeguards,” said Assemblymember Flores. “I hope lawmakers in the Assembly support this compassionate bill that ensures that we expand and improve end-of-life care options for terminally ill adults with appropriate protections to prevent any type abuse and misuse.”
During the virtual hearing, Nevadans shared stories of loved ones who suffered agonizing deaths because they did not have the option of medical aid in dying. One by one, they spoke about blood cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other types of terminal illnesses that ended their loved ones’ lives with needless suffering.
Hanna Olivas, a 46-year-old Las Vegas mother of four children, has been living with a rare form of incurable blood cancer. She was scheduled to testify during the hearing but technical difficulties prevented her from doing so. In her testimony submitted in writing, she stated doctors gave her five years to live in 2017.
“I do not want to be connected to machines, catheters and tubes that will cause more pain and vomiting that will only debilitate my body,” Hanna stated. “When my Lord calls me, I want to die peacefully, surrounded by my husband and our two sons, two daughters and our precious grandchildren, Dominic and Damien, holding my hand in prayer.”
Dar Stone, a Las Vegas physician assistant for 38 years recalled the suffering of his patients at the end of lives.
“It is important to clarify that medical aid in dying is NOT ‘assisted suicide,” he said. “People who request medical aid in dying simply want the option to ease their pain and suffering, so they can die peacefully.”
Medical-aid-in-dying legislation is supported by numerous Nevada state organizations, groups and chapters, such as the ACLU of Nevada, Nevada Association of Health Plans, National Association of Social Workers and the Nevada Libertarian Party. In addition, the 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.
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.