Idaho doesn’t have any laws preventing doctor-assisted suicide, but that could soon change. Members of the House State Affairs Committee voted 18-0 to approve a ban on the practice.
The measure, a plan proposed by David Ripley of Idaho Chooses Life, a Boise-based pro-life group, has already passed the Idaho Senate and now moves on to the House floor for consideration.
Ripley told lawmakers that there is not necessarily a reason to bring the bill at this time, but that it is a preventative measure to prohibit assisted suicide from making its way into the Gem State.
In order to prosecute a physician or medical worker under the plan, it would need to be shown that there was intent to help a patient commit suicide. That means that if a patient illegally uses a doctor-prescribed medicine to overdose, thus committing suicide, the physician could not be held liable.
However, if a doctor prescribes a lethal dose of medicine and instructs a patient how to use it to committee suicide, that physician could be prosecuted under the bill if it passes the House and is signed into law.
The penalty for assisting in a suicide would be a maximum of five years in prison.
Jason Herring, president of Right to Life of Idaho, told lawmakers that humans shouldn’t have the ability to hasten their own demise. “We don’t believe this belongs to a doctor or a hospital,” said Herring. “This belongs to our creator.”
The Idaho Medical Association also supports the bill. The measure faced opposition in the Senate by a state and national entity called Compassion and Choices, a group that stumps in favor of allowing assisted suicide, but there was no testimony against the bill in the House committee.