State Rep. says blogs are falsely claiming his bill will grant suicide for mentally disabled

Delaware State Representative Paul Baumbach wants to set the record straight about his end of life bill for terminally ill patients after national blogs have come out claiming it would push suicide on the intellectually disabled.

Rep. Baumbach said the blogs paint a false picture that his bill, House Bill 160, will act as a form of euthanasia for the intellectually disabled when in actuality his legislation adds protections for them.

"The facts are these are not exaggerations these are lies and these are not articles these are posts on blogs in which you can do anything. You don't have a reporter like yourself actually checking things, you just have someone writing whatever they want," Rep. Baumbach said.

State Rep. says blogs are falsely claiming his bill will push suicide on mentally disabled

Delaware State Representative Paul Baumbach

"In this case, they're taking somewhere around one tenth of the truth and making up nine tenths of it. This bill at the beginning and through the end is one where the patient is making the decisions. This is not euthanasia, this is not killing anyone, and yet there are people who are lying and publishing it on national blogs."

The End of Life Options Act would create a set of procedures for adults to request the medication they could use to end their life, but only after receiving or passing counseling, a physician's evaluation, and a waiting period when given legitimate life expectancy while suffering from a terminal illness. 

Various national blogs have claimed an amendment in the bill 'pushes assisted suicide on intellectually disabled people,' which Rep. Baumbach said was flat out lies and instead acts as a safeguard that protects mentally disabled Delawareans. 

"As far as the amendment, the amendment is a safeguard. This is not something that jeopardizes somebody with intellectual disabilities, but rather it adds an additional protection for them," said Rep. Baumbach. 

"There is a spectrum of intellectual disabilities: there are those who are not able to make their own legal and medical decisions and they're not eligible for this, but there are those who have minor intellectual disabilities and its one that require they take more time to make their decisions, and what this amendment does is it gives them that more time and ensures that all the instructions from their physicians are in writing and work with a clinically license social worker to understand those instructions."

The amendment states that patients who have a documented intellectual disability can consult with a physician who will be required to provide information refer them to a licensed clinical social worker.

The social worker would be used to ensure that mentally disabled patients fully understand all information before medication could be prescribed to end their life if approved by a physician beforehand.  

In an interview last year, after the bill was introduced, Rep. Baumbach claimed it would be a great benefit to senior citizens in Sussex County.

"In Sussex County what you have is a high concentration of senior citizens, and seniors citizens get this, and if you have this discussion at lunch at the senior centers in Sussex you're going to find notable support," said Rep. Baumbach.

"This is not a suicide bill. Suicide is a question of life and death, this is a question of death and death. This is a dying person; there's going to be people dying with less pain with this Bill. You're enabling people, who wish, to make that decision to end their suffering during their dying days, that's not suicide."

On January 19, the amendment passed and was attached to the legislation which passed committee and awaits consideration in the House. 

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