Senate panel schedules hearing on ‘death with dignity’ bill

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday on “death with dignity” legislation advocated by terminally-ill activist John Jay Hooker, it was announced yesterday. Further, from the Tennessean:

“The bill was moved to summer study by a vote of the committee at the request of the sponsor, Sen. (Reginald) Tate, and that is what brings us to the upcoming hearing,” said committee Chairman Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City.

“The bill was presented to us on the last day of our committee meetings, and we did not have sufficient time to fully air the philosophical and policy concerns regarding the legislation.”

The controversial topic, also termed the “right to die” bill, received some debate during this year’s legislative session. Tennessee law makes it a felony for a doctor to help a person commit suicide. Supporters of the bill, including longtime political activist John Jay Hooker, argue that law violates the state constitution, and terminally ill patients should have the ability to choose how they die.

Note: See also WPLN’s report, which includes this:
“It’s a barbaric thing to do to tell a man who suffering that he’s got to continue to suffer,” Hooker said in a telephone interview. “And the question is whether or not the government should tell you when you can die or whether you ought to be able to tell yourself.”

Only three states have approved right-to-die laws. Tennessee legislators put off the bill during the spring legislative session but could take it up again next year.