Arizona End-of-Life Options (“AZELO”) and its predecessor organizations have been involved in introducing Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) legislation to the Arizona State Legislature every year since 2006. MAID legislation gives mentally competent adult patients suffering from a terminal illness the ability to request a prescription medication to bring about a painless and peaceful death. According to Gallup polling data from 2015-2018, a vast majority (72%) of the public support MAID, which is why 11 U.S. jurisdictions have authorized end-of-life options, including Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, New Mexico, New Jersey, Maine and Washington, D.C.
While MAID is still not available to Arizonans suffering from a terminal disease, the support for the legislation and compassion for those in misery continues to grow. Twenty states, including Arizona, are currently considering some form of MAID legislation in 2024.
SB 1530 “End -of-Life Decisions; Terminally Ill Individuals” has been introduced to the Arizona legislature. We will continue to seek a hearing and opportunity to educate the misinformed about the guardrails, criteria and medical data that has been tracked since Oregon passed MAID in 1995.
In addition, this organization is seeking to broaden our legislative approach toward many other issues geared at improving end-of-life options for all Arizonans. In Arizona the use of Voluntarily Stopping Eating and Drinking (VSED) has long been legal. In fact, one can opt to decline to be “artificially administered food and fluids” in their sample Living Will that is provided by the Arizona Attorney General and included in the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS). In working with allied organizations such as the Arizona Public Health Association, Hospice Nurses Association, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, to name a few, we found significant problems with the access, interpretation, and inclusion of certain requests such as hospice care and the identification of certain medications that an individual wishes to use, in the Arizona Living Will statute.
With this in mind, we worked to draft a bill that would amend the relevant section of the ARS to clearly state that, hospice, medication choices, and food and liquid choices can be included in a Living Will. The intention of this bill - HB2254 “Health Care Decisions; Living Wills” - is simply to clarify ambiguity and confusion in the existing statues. We have bi-partisan support for this legislation, with Republican Representative Justin Wilmeth as the prime bill sponsor and Democrat Senator Eva Burch as a Co-Sponsor.
As simple as this bill appears to be, it is meeting resistance from organizations that don’t understand the law or the intent of the bill. We, along with our lobbyist team, are working to address their concerns and correct their mis-conceptions about the bill’s intent. This commonsense legislation will help to increase the use and availability of living wills as a person's end-of-life option for Arizonans.
There are two things that you can do right now to help with these efforts:
- Write to Rep. Wilmeth and Sen. Burch and thank them for their sponsorship of the “Health Care Decisions; Living Wills” bill