Virginia Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill Stalls, Despite Public Approval
Friday, March 4, 2022
A bill to allow medical aid in dying as an option for terminally ill patients in Virginia has failed to make it through the committee process, despite a new poll which found a majority of voters would support it.
Del. Kaye Kory, D-Fairfax, the bill's lead sponsor, predicted the need for such an option will only become more pressing in the future, as the country's population skews older. This session was the third time Kory introduced a proposal to guarantee access to medical aid in dying for people with terminal illnesses.
"As a nation, we need to realize that we are an aging population," Kory pointed out. "And this issue, of how you want to die, is going to keep coming up. It's not an easy conversation for anyone."
Opponents of the practice believe it is unethical for a doctor to aid someone in ending their life, even if they're in pain, and argued people could be coerced into it in inappropriate circumstances. But new polling commissioned by the group Compassion and Choices found nearly 70% of respondents support medical aid in dying for terminally ill patients, which is currently permitted in 10 states and Washington, D.C.
The poll also found more than half of voters are more likely to support candidates who back medical aid-in-dying proposals.
Jim Lee, CEO of Susquehanna Polling and Research, which conducted the survey, noted support for the practice spans political and ideological lines.
"You know, the fact that we have strong consensus on this type of medical issue, I think, speaks volumes," Lee asserted.
Kim Callinan, CEO of Compassion & Choices, said the last two years have had an effect on how people process and talk about death, including medical aid in dying and other end-of-life considerations.
"As a result of the COVID pandemic, people have come face to face with the inevitability of life's end," Callinan observed. "They're recognizing that the current policies are lacking, and seeking greater autonomy and compassion."
She noted Virginia is one of eleven states to consider medical aid-in-dying measures during their most recent legislative sessions. A separate Gallup poll conducted in 2020 found about three-quarters of respondents supported medical aid in dying.
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