The North Carolina Legislature is taking up the national debate over the right for a terminally ill individual to die on his or her terms. House Bill 611 introduces the concept known as "Death With Dignity".

The bill was introduced by two House Democrats. The Winston-Salem Journal reports it would allow terminally ill individuals age 18 or older to end their own life assisted by a lethal dose of prescribed medicine.

Bill co-sponsor Pricey Harrison acknowledges that physician-assisted suicide  is controversial, and may take several years to gain momentum.

Her hope is to at least get the bill discussed this session. It has not yet been placed into a committee.

Harrison sees the legislation as an extension of a living will, where individuals can request that no extraordinary medical efforts be taken if there is no hope for recovery.

Opponents argue that individuals could be pressured to end their lives by relatives seeking monetary gain, and that it sanctions legal killing by physicians.

Three states – Oregon, Washington and Vermont – have “Death with Dignity” laws.



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