New Hampshire assisted suicide bill survives challenge after Catholic lawmaker changes his mind

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A bill seeking to allow people in New Hampshire with six months or less to live access to physician-assisted suicide has survived a challenge spurred by a Catholic lawmaker who changed his mind after voting in favor of the legislation.

New Hampshire state Rep. Mike Ouellet, a Republican representing Colebrook, first voted in favor of House Bill 1283, which would legalize assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. The bill narrowly passed the New Hampshire House on March 21 by a vote of 179-176, with 24 state representatives abstaining. 

Ouellet told the New Hampshire Center for Public Interest Journalism that he was initially convinced to vote for HB 1273 after hearing testimony that was "very, very compassionate about trying to help people with their suffering and pain." However, he said his faith compelled him to change his mind as he reflected on it while driving home.

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"I've been a practicing Catholic my whole life," Ouellet said, adding that he felt torn because the bill would conflict with his faith. He noted that the initial vote happened at the end of the day on March 21, by which time many members had already left.

Ouellet's motion to reconsider the bill failed in the House last Thursday by a vote of  210-147. 

The law would allow a terminally ill patient in New Hampshire to receive a lethal dose of medication if he is deemed mentally competent with a life expectancy of six months or less. The patient must have "voluntarily made the request for medical assistance in dying," according to the bill's text.

Two doctors, two mental health experts and two witnesses would also have to sign off on the request.

Six Democrats and three Republicans co-sponsored the bill in the New Hampshire House, though only one Democrat state senator is sponsoring it in the upper chamber.

Republican New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, who is not running for reelection, has not firmly endorsed or opposed the proposed legislation but noted that it would not be "absolutely dead on arrival," according to WMUR-TV.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester has expressed opposition, as have other organizations, such as the NH Hospital Association and Disability Rights Center NH.

In April 2022, Catholic Bishop Peter Libasci of the Manchester diocese issued "Three Beliefs: A Guide for New Hampshire Catholics on End-of-Life Decisions," which laid out the Catholic opposition to any law that would permit physician-assisted suicide.

"For the Christian, the suffering that comes from illness and death is a way of being deeply united with the death and resurrection of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. We know that death is not the end; it is the doorway to eternal life," the document says in part.

The guidance advises Catholics to avoid "the opposite extremes of the deliberate hastening of death on the one hand and the overzealous use of treatment or care to artificially extend life and prolong the dying process on the other."

Describing suicide as "a grave evil" and "always morally wrong," the diocese states, "There is never a situation where it is right to either assist in someone else's suicide or to arrange for it on one's own behalf."

If HB 1273 is passed, New Hampshire will join 10 other states that allow euthanasia for terminally ill patients.

Jon Brown is a reporter for The Christian Post. Send news tips to

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