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Assisted suicide bill advances in Olympia

Tom Banse/Northwest News Network

The bill co-sponsored by Spokane Representative Marcus Riccelli would make changes to Washington's Death with Dignity Act.

A Washington House committee has advanced a bill that would make changes to the state’s Death with Dignity Act, which took effect 14 years ago.

“What we found in studying this is that the end of life services have been disproportionately available to wealthier Washingtonians, white Washingtonians, those living in urban areas, and leaving out many people who would seek this care," said Rep. Nicole Macri (D-Seattle) before the House Health Care and Wellness Committee voted to send the bill to the full House of Representatives.

The current law allows terminally ill people with fewer than six months to live to ask their doctors for life-ending drugs. Patients must make one oral and two written requests for drugs at least 15 days apart. The bill approved Friday in committee shortens the waiting period to seven days.

Another change adds physician assistants and nurse practitioners to the list of health care professionals that can prescribe drugs. The bill also allows pharmacies to send life-ending drugs to patients through the mail or delivery courier.

Opponents of the bill, including Rep. Joe Schmick (R-Colfax), say the current law makes it too easy for people to end their lives.

“It is my personal belief that we should be striving for life and I struggle with this idea that we can bring on our own deaths by choosing," he said.

Doug Nadvornick has spent most of his 30+-year radio career at Spokane Public Radio and filled a variety of positions. He is currently the program director and news director. Through the years, he has also been the local Morning Edition and All Things Considered host (not at the same time). He served as the Inland Northwest correspondent for the Northwest News Network, based in Coeur d’Alene. He created the original program grid for KSFC. He has also served for several years as a board member for Public Media Journalists Association. During his years away from SPR, he worked at The Pacific Northwest Inlander, Washington State University in Spokane and KXLY Radio.