Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoes assisted suicide bill, calls it 'unnecessary'


Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoed a bill to legalize assisted suicide, declaring the legislation "unnecessary" due to advancements in pain management and palliative care services. 

Senate Bill 239 would have legalized assisted suicide in Nevada, allowing doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients over 18 diagnosed with a terminal condition to hasten their deaths. 

The Republican governor vetoed the bill on Monday evening after the bill passed the state Senate in April by one vote and the Assembly in May by four votes. Democrats control both chambers.  

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"End of life decisions are never easy," Lombardo wrote in his veto statement. "Individuals and family members must often come together to face many challenges — including deciding what is the best course of treatment for a loved one." 

"Fortunately, expansions in palliative care services and continued improvements in advanced pain management make the end-of-life provisions in SB 239 unnecessary," he continued.

Denise Burke, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a religious liberty legal advocacy group, agreed with Lombardo's veto. The ADF attorney asserted in a Tuesday statement that suffering is not a justifiable reason to end an innocent human life via assisted suicide. 

"Furthermore, many bills that legalize physician-assisted suicide, including Senate Bill 239, violate the rights of conscience of health care professionals by forcing them to participate in ending the lives of their patients," Burke stated. 

"Doctors prescribe medicine, not death. The state shouldn't order them to act contrary to their duty to act as healers. That's why we commend Gov. Lombardo for vetoing this dangerous legislation. Thanks to him, the integrity of the medical profession and the rights of conscience for health care professionals will not be violated by the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Nevada."

Proponents of the bill, such as Elliot Malin, a lobbyist who pushed for the legislation, argue that it's necessary to end the suffering of people dying painful deaths. 

"There are Nevadans right now that are suffering," Malin said, as quoted by The Las Vegas Review-Journal on Monday. "This is not a choice between life and death. … Having the opportunity to have this choice on how their life will end after a very gruesome and cruel illness stripped from them is very disappointing."

In contrast to Nevada, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed S.74 into law earlier this year, allowing patients that meet certain requirements to request a prescription for life-ending drugs without an in-person doctor visit. 

As The Christian Post previously reported, the original 2013 S.77 bill required patients with a terminal illness and a six-month prognosis to make two in-person visit requests to a prescribing physician at least 15 days apart. Patients also had to visit another consulting physician to make a written request and wait 48 hours after receiving the prescription to use it.

The new law eliminates the physical examination requirement, and while the 15-day requirement remains, the bill permits physicians to determine a patient's eligibility through a remote appointment. It also removes the 48-hour waiting period.

Wesley J. Smith, chair and senior fellow at the conservative think tank Discovery Institute's Center on Human Exceptionalism, warned that assisted suicide creates a "two-tiered system of the value of human life." 

"You're basically saying that a certain category of people should not have the same suicide prevention as other people," Smith said. "And you're validating their worst fears that they're a burden, that they do not have lives worth living." 

Commenting on the Vermont bill in a statement at the time to CP, Smith stated that it was "appalling, but not surprising." 

"Once the principle is established that suicide is an acceptable answer to human suffering and that the state will facilitate that effort, then the supposed guidelines that are promised to protect against abuse soon come to be seen as obstacles," Smith said.

Samantha Kamman is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: Follow her on Twitter: @Samantha_Kamman

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