North Carolina has now become the latest state considering enactment of Death with Dignity legislation. On April 11, 2017, four State Representatives, Harrison (D-57), Fisher (D-114), Meyer (D-50) and Insko (D-56), introduced HB789, almost exactly two years after the introduction of HB611.
Dying Right NC worked closely with Representative Harrison, whose passionate advocacy for an enlightened approach to End of Life choices is inspirational. This bill introduces several safeguards intended to address concerns expressed by the law’s opponents.
For example the bill requires both witnesses at the time a written request for an Aid in Dying drug is made, must be independent and at least one must be a resident of NC, as must be the case for the patient-applicant. The bill also criminalizes any actions interfering with an individual’s decision to ingest an Aid in Dying drug, such as by destroying the prescription or the drug itself. It introduces a new voluntary role of Attending Witness to be nominated by the patient applicant to be present at the time of ingestion to make sure there is not coercion or duress.
It is not clear how far HB789 will go during this legislative session. No Death with Dignity law has been enacted in a southern, Bible belt red state, but we are confident that the majority of North Carolinians favor this bill and we will undertake to make sure their legislators are aware of their preference.
Ed Tiryakian, J.D., MBA, founded Dying Right NC in 2015 and is its Executive Director. He previously worked in international banking in Asia before retiring to his native NC.He believes End of Life issues are one of society’s most pressing challenges as we all live longer and the medicalization of the dying process continues to conflict with the individual’s right to choose his or her end.