Oral Testimony of Daniese McMullin-Powell, Delaware NDY, Opposing HB 150

My name is Daniese McMullin-Powell I am here to day testifying on behalf of Not Dead Yet Delaware and ADAPT Delaware


HB 150 DWD, Delaware’s recently introduced Physician Assisted Suicide bill is modeled after a law that went into effect in Oregon in 1997.


Many state “There have been no problems in Oregon.”


Several of Oregon’s reports have included language such as, “We cannot determine whether assisted suicide is being practiced outside the framework of the law.” There is no authority to detect violations. Doctors that fail to report their lethal prescriptions face no penalty. Once the prescription is obtained, no further witness is required. Nothing in the law ensures the person’s consent or self-administration at the time of death. Only in the fantasy world of proponents are all families, including subversively abusive ones, happily gathered around the peaceful and willing suicide.

If assisted suicide is legal, some people’s lives will be ended without their consent, through mistakes and abuse. No safeguards have ever been enacted or proposed that can prevent this outcome, one that can never be undone

The kind of suffering this bill talks about is social and psychological. Doctors report, people are choosing suicide because of loss of autonomy, feeling like a burden, and loss of control of bodily functions. Less than 28% cited concerns about pain.


These reasons suggest a meaning of dignity that is fragile and easily lost through disability and dependence on others. The people acting on these views, proponents admit, tend to be wealthier, better educated, and people with a strong preference for control. This is presented as a good thing.


We should really look deeper, beyond the simplistic mantra of “choice”.

In Oregon, Barbara Wagner and Randy Stroup, were diagnosed with cancer. Their Doctors prescribed Chemotherapy. Both were denied their prescribed treatments by the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid). The Plan refused payment for chemotherapy, but did offer to pay for assisted suicide. The cost of the lethal drug for suicide was about $300.00

When assisted suicide drugs cost significantly less than the cost of treating terminal illness, and patients with limited finances are denied other treatment options by their insurance company, they are, in effect, being steered toward Physician assisted death. This is no longer a matter of choice or dignity.

We cannot trade the dignity and life of a human being for the bottom line

HB 150 is not about a person choosing to refuse treatment or forgoing further treatment, or “pulling the plug”, or DNRs, or advance directives. All of these are already legally available. It is about asking a Dr. to actively help cause death, and call it a medical treatment!


Every major disability rights organization in the country that has taken a position on assisted suicide is opposed to legalization, along with the American Medical Association, palliative care specialists and hospice workers.


Here in Delaware, we should, strive for better options to address the fear and uncertainty. It’s not, about death with dignity at all.

Whatever else assisted suicide is, it is not about pain.

Pain is a medical problem that palliative care can solve.  As renowned palliative care expert Dr. Ira Byock testified,


If I thought lethal prescriptions were necessary to alleviate suffering, I would support them. In 34 years of practice, I have never abandoned a patient to die in uncontrolled pain and have never needed to hasten a patient’s death. Alleviating suffering is different from eliminating the sufferer. Allowing a person to die gently is importantly different from actively ending the person’s life.


Reject this bill. Thank you very much. Daniese McMullin-Powell