Legislation will increase patient power, providing Michiganders suffering from a terminal illness with the fundamental freedom of choice in end-of-life options
LANSING, Mich. (Nov. 9, 2023) — Today, Sens. Mary Cavanagh (D-Redford Twp.), Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores), Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) and Veronica Klinefelt (D-Eastpointe) introduced a Death with Dignity legislative package comprised of Senate Bills 678-681. This legislation would allow terminally ill patients the option to request and use prescribed medication to end their lives peacefully on their own timeline.
If passed, Michigan would join 10 states and Washington, D.C. who have expanded patients’ power to make decisions regarding their end-of-life care. Since Oregon became the first to allow this practice in 1997, the state has demonstrated the law is safe, effective and meaningful in providing terminally ill residents the fundamental freedom they deserve.
“So many of us share the painful experience of having witnessed a loved one suffer, knowing they could have benefitted from an expanded end-of-life care option. Patients deserve the trust and respect to make their own medical decisions, including the choice to determine their own timeline to end ongoing suffering during the oftentimes dark battle they face,” said Sen. Cavanagh, lead sponsor of the bill package. “The Death with Dignity Act honors the autonomy and dignity of every person, ensuring they maintain power in the entirety of their life. This is a compassionate policy that would provide Michiganders and their loved ones with peace of mind when facing terminal illness.”
Embedded in the package are numerous regulations, safeguards, and considerations that ensure the safe practice of the policy, including determining that the patient is terminally ill with fewer than six months to live; ensuring the patient is able to make the voluntary decision of medical aid in dying; a minimum 15-day waiting period; access to insurance coverage in treatment and benefits in death; licensing requirements, limitations, and protections for prescribing physicians; and criminal penalties for non-compliant physicians.
“We have all witnessed and supported a loved one facing a terminal illness,” said Sen. Hertel, Chair of the Senate Health Policy Committee. “This legislation has important safeguards while allowing an individual to make this difficult decision with their physician and family. With its passage, Michiganders will have access to this compassionate option that is available in other states.”
“Granting individuals the autonomy to choose dignified end of life care is not just an act of compassion but a testament to the value of personal freedom,” said Sen. Singh. “This legislation offers the solace of choice, while also providing critical safeguards to ensure its application is safe and protects our most vulnerable patients.”
“All individuals have a fundamental right to dignity,” said Sen. Klinefelt. “This legislation will finally provide Michiganders facing terminal illness with the freedom they deserve to write the final chapter of their own story with grace. Whether they choose comfort care, hospice care or pain management — this bill ensures that all options are accessible and respected.”