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Delaware’s ‘medical aid in dying’ bill passes, heads to governor

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Baltimore, Md., Jun 26, 2024 / 15:50 pm (CNA).

The Delaware state Senate passed a bill on Tuesday that would legalize assisted suicide. The upper legislative chamber of President Joe Biden’s home state approved the proposed law by the narrowest of margins — 11 to 10.

The narrow passage of H.B. 140 came less than a week after the state Senate initially rejected it. Delaware’s state House passed the bill on April 18.

Despite the Delaware Legislature’s approval of the bill, it faces a possible veto from Gov. John Carney. The incumbent Democrat voiced his opposition to assisted suicide in 2022, according to an April 19 article by The Dialog, the official newspaper of the Diocese of Wilmington: “I believe enabling physicians to facilitate suicide crosses a boundary that I’m just not comfortable crossing.”

Bishop William Koenig of Wilmington decried the bill during the lead-up to the first vote: “We’re not the ones that end life. We’re not the ones that decide when it’s time to end our lives. … Whether it’s a young person that is taking their life, a middle-aged person, or an older person, it’s wrong for society to say this is something we condone.”

The diocese also issued a statement on Wednesday blasting the state Senate’s passage of the bill: “This ‘solution’ is never acceptable; there is no justification to take an innocent life. Furthermore, it is a violation of a central principle in the medical profession that one is called to heal and preserve life and ‘do no harm’ and turns those who should care for society’s health into agents of death.”

The Dialog noted that after the bill’s initial defeat, majority leader Bryan Townsend “preserved the ability to … call for another tally before the June 30 end of session.”

State Sen. Kyra Hoffner, a Democrat, cast the deciding vote Tuesday, according to a report from WDEL in Wilmington. Hoffner originally registered a “not voting” decision during the June 20 roll call.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns euthanasia as “morally unacceptable” (No. 2277). Pope Francis affirmed this teaching in a message to an interfaith symposium on palliative care earlier this year: “I would point out that authentic palliative care is radically different from euthanasia, which is never a source of hope or genuine concern for the sick and dying.”

The very narrow vote in Delaware stands out. Maryland, just over the border from the First State, rejected a similar proposal on March 1. New Hampshire’s state Senate overwhelmingly voted against “medical aid in dying” on May 16.

Physician-assisted suicide is currently legal in 10 states — California,  Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington state — along with the District of Columbia.


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