Tennessee could become the first Republican state to legalize assisted dying, as part of a new bill being considered in the state legislature.
Lawmakers have introduced a ‘right to die’ bill that, if passed, would make it legal for terminally ill adults with only six months to live to end their own lives.
The bill was tabled this month by Democrat Bob Freeman, whose friends had dealt with ‘horrible end-of-life situations’.
Currently, ten Democratic states have right-to-die die laws in place, as well as DC, some of which are more lenient than others.
Lawmakers have introduced a ‘right to die’ bill that, if passed, would make it legal for terminally ill adults with only six months to live to end their own lives (stock photo)
In states where right-to-die bills are approved, patients generally must have been told they only have six months left to live and have had counselling.
The Tennessee bill HB1710 was introduced on January 9 this year to the state house in Nashville.
It has a long way to go before becoming law, needing to survive two readings in the House unopposed, a consultation in a committee, a vote in the House and then two readings, a consultation and a vote in the Senate.
It will then need to be signed by Republican Governor Bill Lee in order to become law.
It is not clear how long the process could take, but in California the legislature took just two months to pass.
At least four other Republican states are currently considering legislation to approve assisted dying — Florida, Indiana, Iowa and Missouri.
A previous bill to legalize assisted dying in Tennessee failed in 2017.
Congressman Bob Freeman told local news: ‘Recently I’ve had some close friends go through really horrible end-of-life situations for their family members that wanted the pain to be over, and it’s not an option,
‘They just had to live in pain for the last six months of their life.’
‘[But] they should have been able to go into a facility, speak to a medical professional, get the counseling needed and go through that medically, and that decision’s not available for Tennesseans today.’
He added: ‘When we know somebody’s not going to get better and they’re not going to recover, we should have an opportunity for that person, if they’re in the right mind, to be able to make that decision and act on that decision.’
The first state to legalize assisted dying in the US was Oregon, which approved the measure in 1994.