Our View of the Legislature — Medical Aid in Dying

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In the session that ended on Saturday, March 9, 2024, the Virginia General Assembly failed to pass legislation that would have allowed for medical assistance in dying, colloquially known as Assisted Suicide. This is a controversial issue, with deeply held beliefs on both sides, throughout the disability community.

HB 858 (Hope) was defeated on the floor of the House of Delegates. Although the Senate version, SB 280 (Hashmi) was approved by the Senate, it was continued until 2025 in the House Committee on Courts of Justice.

The proposals would have allowed an adult diagnosed with a terminal condition to request an attending healthcare provider to prescribe a self-administered controlled substance to end the patient’s life. There were precautions in the bills and protections from legal liability for a practitioner who assists or declines to assist. The bills made it a felony to coerce or influence a patient to end their life.

dLCV believes that medical assistance in dying should not become an option resulting from a failure to provide adequate health care for people with complex disabilities.  However, we also maintain that if the option does become available, people with disabilities not be excluded from the option solely because of their disability.

The mission of the disAbility Law Center of Virginia is to advance independence, choice, and self-determination; protect legal, human, and civil rights; and eliminate abuse, neglect, and discrimination of people with disabilities through zealous and uncompromising legal advocacy and representation. We are available to educate policymakers about the potential impact of legislative proposals. Please let us know of any legislative proposals or budget issues that you think we should be following. Contact us at ga@dlcv.org, or info@dlcv.org, or by calling 1-800-552-3962 or 1-804-225-2042.