Doctor Prescribed Death


HB 4461- Rep. Tom Cochrane & HB 4462 - Rep. Kevin Hertel

Current Status
HB 4461 & HB 4462 were introduced on March 30, 2017 and were referred to the House Health Policy Committee.


HB 4461 & 4462 would repeal the Michigan assisted suicide ban and legalize doctor-prescribed death (assisted suicide). The sponsors refer to the bill as "the death with dignity act".


HB 4461 allows doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to certain patients in order for the patient to end his/her life. The bill currently limits suicide to terminally ill patients 18 years of age or older. The bill requires that the patient request the lethal drugs in writing, but there are no requirement that the doctor be present when the patient takes the drugs. There is no follow-up if the patient decides not to take the drugs, so the drugs could fall into the wrong hands. Suicide cannot be listed as the cause of death on the death certificate, and patients do not have to notify their family members. In addition, the bill provides legal immunity from being fired for those doctors who participate in providing lethal drugs to their patients including doctors employed at Catholic or other religiously affiliated hospitals. However, HB 4462 does provide penalties for anyone who forges a request for lethal drugs and for anyone who coerces someone into requesting suicide drugs.


After Jack Kevorkian killed 130 people in the1990s, the topic of assisted suicide was brought to the national forefront. There was a ballot initiative in Michigan in 1998 whereby assisted suicide was rejected by 71% of the voters. More information can be found here. Michigan passed an assisted suicide ban in 2000. Since then, 6 states and the District of Columbia have legalized assisted suicide, and their regular suicide rates have increased. Several European countries have allowed physician prescribed death for years, and we are now beginning to see active euthanasia in some countries.  Those non-voluntary deaths at the hands of medical personnel have begun to include children.



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