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A Virginia Senate subcommittee recommended against a bill that would have allowed terminally ill people to request a medically-assisted death after State Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke City) joined with Republicans in opposition; the bill will still go before the full Senate Education and Health Committee for consideration.

“I know this is a very sensitive issue, but this is an issue about which I’ve heard from so many individuals and families who have requested an option to have control over their final decisions as they reach they end of their life,” SB 930 sponsor State Senator Ghazala Hashmi (D-Chesterfield) said in the Health Professions subcommittee on Friday morning.

Advocates of the bill shared stories about traumatic and painful deaths they or loved ones faced; the legislation would provide them the option to die in their sleep with medication from their healthcare provider.

“It is an effort to provide compassionate choice for those who are at the end stages,” Hashmi told The Star.

Hashmi emphasized protections and limitations included in the bill: “The most critical issue is that the individuals must be mentally capable of making an informed decisions and must have a prognosis of six months or fewer to live.”

The bill has additional protections, including that two Virginia-licensed health care providers must confirm that the patient has a prognosis of six months or less, and that the patient has full mental capability to make the decision. Patients must be at least 18 years old. The legislation also includes a waiting period: after the patient requests aid in dying from their healthcare provider, they must wait 15 days and ask again, unless their prognosis is less than 15 days. Hashmi said disability and depression are not terminal illnesses and don’t qualify in the legislation.

“Health care providers have civil and criminal immunity if they do choose to participate in the law, as long as they comply with all aspects of the law. And anyone attempting to coerce a patient will face criminal prosecution,” Hashmi said.

When the bill and the subcommittee’s recommendation goes before the full Senate committee for a vote, it faces better chances of passing out of committee, since Democrats hold a larger majority in the full committee. In 2022, Hashmi introduced similar legislation that was killed in the full committee when Edwards and all Republicans voted against it and State Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax City) abstained. But even if the bill passes out of committee and out of the Senate, it faces tough odds in the Republican-controlled House of Delegates.

Petersen hasn’t had a chance to look at the 2023 version of the legislation.

“I need to read that bill because I’m getting a lot of feedback on it,” he said.

When The Star asked if he might vote differently this year, he said, “I talked with some advocates, which got me past some hesitations I had, but I have not yet decided which way I’m going.”

Edwards told The Star, “Depression may not be a particularly life-threatening disease, but I know that there are a lot of people who when they get depressed with another life-threatening disease, the depression takes over and then destroys their life,” he said.

“I sympathize with people who would like to be in the situation to control their own death, but at the same time I am concerned about the unforeseen and unintended consequences of it,” he added.

He said, “I’ve seen situations where people have died by suicide because they’re depressed. I’ve seen it a lot, and I think it’s something I’m concerned about, and so I kind of lean toward, let’s hold off on that.”

– – –

Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network.  Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “John Edwards” by John Edwards. Background Photo “Doctors and Patient” by RODNAE Productions.

News Source: tennesseestar.com

Tags: 2022 virginia general assembly 2023 virginia general assembly medically assisted suicide death with dignity act life threatening disease health care providers i’ve seen that the patient out of committee the legislation the legislation concerned state senator told the star committee john edwards

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National News | Minnesota activists renew call for reform after Memphis police killing

By Kyeland Jackson | StarTribune

MINNEAPOLIS — Local groups and activists renewed calls Saturday for police reform in Minnesota, reeling anew after seeing a video released by the Memphis Police Department that showed officers tasing and beating a 29-year-old Black man to death.

At a news conference held just minutes from the site where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd in May 2020, Nekima Levy Armstrong said the Memphis video revealed that the need for police reform is not limited by the race of the officers involved.

“It does not matter that the officers were Black. In that matter, they were blue,” Levy Armstrong said. “We need the attorney general, the governor, and the Legislature to do their damn jobs — to pass the type of legislation that sends a message to the rest of the nation that the time for change is long overdue.”

More than a dozen activists and group members gathered around Levy Armstrong nodded in agreement. They held signs reading “Justice for Tyre Nichols” and chanted “say his name” as they stood in support.

Many said that Minnesota could be a model for police reform across the nation. But Michelle Gross with Communities United Against Police Brutality, a volunteer group advocating against police misconduct, said Minneapolis has moved backward by replacing its civilian review authority with an oversight commission that includes police.

“If we want to see more of these outrageous incidents, and more of the people’s anger, keep it up Minneapolis because that’s what you’re doing,” Gross said. “Until we commit to ending the systems, to addressing the problems, to making real legislation that addresses the issues of accountability, this problem will continue and grow as it has in the last two years since Mr. Floyd was killed.”

Another local group, Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, is planning to hold a protest at 2 p.m. Sunday outside the official residence of Gov. Tim Walz in St. Paul.

In the wake of Floyd’s murder, Democrats at the State Capitol pushed for more civilian oversight and other reforms to policing but faced opposition from Republicans who then controlled the state Senate.

With the DFL now in full control of state government, the party is in a position to go further. But it’s not yet clear what reforms could move forward this year as many prominent Democrats in Minnesota and nationally have distanced themselves from calls to “defund the police” or to otherwise drastically remake systems of policing.

The video of Nichols, released Friday at around 6 p.m., shows officers pull him over for reckless driving. Nichols runs away after one of the officers attempt to tase him but is caught blocks away from his home. The officers then restrain Nichols and take turns kicking, punching, and taking a baton to him as he screams for his mother.

He was taken to a hospital later and died of his injuries. Five officers have been fired and charged with murdering Nichols.

For many, the trauma of watching such incidents has become too much.

Chauntyll Allen with Black Lives Matter Twin Cities said she couldn’t stomach watching the whole video. She asked: “Do my grandchildren have to experience this?”

Activist D.J. Hooker said he was in tears Friday and had to take breaks from work as he waited for the video’s release. Hooker found it ironic that law enforcement in Minnesota erected barriers Friday in case of riots.

“It’s easier to pay people, these cops, overtime and it’s easier to pay people to put barricades up than it is to actually pass legislation that’s going to keep our neighbors safe — that’s going to keep Black and brown folks safe,” Hooker said.

Walz called the Memphis footage horrifying in a tweet on Friday night, adding that Minnesota and the nation must “recommit to stopping this pattern of violence.”

The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, the state’s largest organization representing public safety professionals, said the force officers used on Nichols was unreasonable and contrary to police policies and law.

“The video is shocking and tragic. It does not reflect proper policing, and Tyre Nichols did not deserve to die,” Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association Executive Director Brian Peters said in a statement released Saturday. “Police officers must earn the trust of the communities we serve by treating all people with dignity, compassion, and respect.”

At 38th and Chicago on Saturday, snow covered the pavement where George Floyd spent some of his last moments. That’s where Bryan, who declined to share his last name, thought about the state of the country.

For him, a solution to police violence must involve the community and law enforcement.

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“It hurts seeing a Black man dying under those law enforcement people. They’re supposed to be protecting him,” Bryan said. “As a society, as a human being, we have to come together and find a common ground. There is no law enforcement without the society and there’s no society without somebody who’s supporting laws. But (this) has to stop.”

©2023 StarTribune. Visit startribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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