Eye On Boise

Death bill clears House committee

Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, pitches Senate-passed legislation to the House State Affairs Committee on Monday that she contends would protect dying patients who want care to continue even as they die. (Betsy Russell)
Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, pitches Senate-passed legislation to the House State Affairs Committee on Monday that she contends would protect dying patients who want care to continue even as they die. (Betsy Russell)

Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, pitched SB 1348, the death bill, to the House State Affairs Committee this morning, saying her measure, backed by pro-life groups, would ensure that treatment, food and fluids aren't denied to a dying patient if the patient wants them and if they "in reasonable medical judgement will preserve the life of the patient." The bill was amended in the Senate to address concerns from the Idaho Medical Association and advocates for the developmentally disabled, changing the language to more closely match existing law and standards of care, and causing those groups to drop their opposition. Nuxoll told the committee that the IMA supports the bill, and said she's not aware of any groups that oppose it.

Ken McClure, lobbyist for the IMA, offered a correction. "We don't support the bill," he told the committee, "but we have negotiated a set of amendments which cause it to be acceptable to us. ... We want to thank the sponsors for their willingness to negotiate those amendments with us."

Julie Lynde of Cornerstone Family Council, a backer of the bill, shared a story about her father's death from cancer; he wanted all means to continue to preserve his life even as he died. She said she and relatives had to continually fight with medical care providers over that, and that at one point, a nurse falsely told her mother that her father had whispered that he wanted to die. "My mom said, 'how dare you' ... She later admitted that she lied," Lynde said. "We knew he was dying."

A tearful mother, Pamela Dowd, shared the story of her daughter's death six months ago, during which providers at one hospital wouldn't follow her wishes, though a second hospital later did. "She wasn't a vegetable. She was very much alive," Dowd told the committee. The committee approved the bill on a unanimous vote; it now moves to the full House.




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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