Medically-assisted suicide bill dies in Virginia Legislature


  • Virginia lawmakers on Monday delayed legislation that would allow medically-assisted suicide for another year.
  • A House of Delegates committee voted to carry the bill over to the 2025 session, killing any chance it had at being enacted this year.
  • Several Democratic committee members expressed openness to passing legislation similar to state Sen. Ghazala Hashmi’s bill in the future.

Virginia lawmakers on Monday defeated for another year legislation that would allow certain adults facing terminal illness to end their own lives with a self-administered controlled substance prescribed by a health care provider.

A House committee voted to carry the medically assisted suicide bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. Ghazala Hashmi over to the 2025 session, ending its chances this year.

Similar legislation failed in previous years. But Hashmi’s bill passed the Senate in February on a party-line vote after receiving an endorsement from U.S. Rep. Jennifer Wexton, a Democrat and former state senator who has been diagnosed with a terminal neurological disease.

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Wexton and other supporters said the bill would extend compassion to people who are dying by giving them control over how their life ends.

The bill limited eligibility to mentally competent individuals 18 or older who have received a diagnosis that they have six months or less to live. Ten other states and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation, Hashmi said Monday.

The Virginia Capitol

The Virginia Capitol is seen on March 4, 2010, in Richmond, Virginia. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

“This legislation allows an eligible individual the autonomy to decide when suffering becomes too great and to alleviate that suffering on their own terms by dying peacefully in their sleep should they choose,” she said in an earlier subcommittee hearing.

Religious and socially conservative groups opposed the measure.

“Assisted suicide facilitates tragedies and makes the most vulnerable even more vulnerable,” Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington and Bishop Barry Knestout of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond said in a joint statement issued last month. “Legalizing it would place the lives of people with disabilities, people with mental illnesses, the elderly, and those unable to afford healthcare — among others — at heightened risk of deadly harm.”

Some medical providers also opposed the measure, arguing that contributing to a suicide is antithetical to the profession’s standards.

A companion bill was introduced by Del. Patrick Hope in the House of Delegates but failed to make it out of the chamber.

Monday’s decision to carry the bill over was made with an unrecorded voice vote. Several Democrats on the committee expressed support for the legislation in concept and said they hoped or expected it could pass in the future.

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“I’m confident that there will be a day when this moves forward,” Hope said.



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