CARSON CITY — Opponents of physician-assisted suicide denounced a Nevada legislative proposal Wednesday to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients.
Doctors, patients and lawyers, many wearing buttons that read “Kill the Pain not the Patient,” said the measure was dangerous and a “profound and dramatic change in public policy.”
Dr. Brian Callister, a Reno physician, described Senate Bill 261 as “giving physicians permission to kill.”
The bill was scheduled for a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services but was pulled from the agenda just hours before the meeting was to begin. Friday is the deadline for bills to be passed out of committee or die.
Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, a primary sponsor of the bill, said he requested an exemption from the deadline and expected a hearing in the coming weeks.
Five states — California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and California — have adopted laws allowing terminally ill patients to seek doctor assistance to end their lives.
The bill allows a patient over 18 years old to request life-ending drugs if their conditions are terminal and likely to result in death within six months. At least two doctors would have to verify the diagnosis. The patient must be a Nevada resident and mentally competent to make the life-ending decision. It would also require the patient be able to self-administer the drugs.
Callister and other physicians, including Sen. Joe Hardy, R-Boulder City, scoffed at the notion a doctor can accurately predict how long someone will live.
“We’re very poor at predicting life expectancy,” Callister said.