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Nevada Mulls Legalizing Assisted Suicide

CARSON CITY, Nev. (CN) - Nevada is joining several legislatures across the country in considering legalization of physician-assisted suicide.

State Senator David Parks, D-Las Vegas, and seven cosigners introduced Senate Bill 336 on March 16. It would authorize "a physician to prescribe a controlled substance that is designed to end the life of a patient under certain circumstances."

Nevada law gives terminally ill patients the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment. SB336 extends those rights by giving patients the right to "self-determination concerning medically assisted, informed, voluntary decisions about dying with dignity and avoiding unnecessary suffering."

State Senator Tick Segerblom, D-Las Vegas, said he co-sponsored the bill because he's seen quality of life deteriorate in terminally ill patients.

"We should all have the right to control our own destiny," Segerblom said in a statement. "As long as that decision is educated and voluntary, I support it."

An Oregon based organization, Death with Dignity, is working with legislators nationwide to help write end-of-life bills. Oregon enacted its Death with Dignity Act in 1994.

Death with Dignity said it is working with Parks and co-sponsor state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Washoe, "to provide a peaceful and dignified death for those suffering from terminal illnesses."

SB336 will require patients to be diagnosed by two physicians, make two verbal requests at least 15 days apart, make a written statement and be mentally competent. The suicide drug or drugs can be administered only by the patients themselves.

Segerblom expects that religious organizations will be the bill's largest opponents but argues, "It should be a personal decision, not a government-imposed decision."

Give states have legalized assisted suicide: Oregon, Montana, Washington, Vermont and most recently, New Mexico. Similar bills have been introduced in 21 other states.

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