After a sober and emotional debate, the Idaho Senate on Friday passed a bill making assisted suicide a felony punishable by 5 years in prison on a 31-2 vote Friday.
Senate Bill 1070, sponsored by Sen. Russ Fulcher, R-Meridian, now goes to the House. “Idaho does not have a clear law on this issue,” Fulcher said.
Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, spoke of losing her father, father-in-law and husband last year.
"With the passing of my father, father-in-law and husband last year, I can tell you pain management medicine doesn't always work," said Stennett to a hushed chamber. Her husband, former Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett, was a beloved colleague who died after lengthy treatment for brain cancer.
Stennett cautioned against lawmaking in the private sphere, saying, "Please, please come from a compassionate place."
She praised Fulcher for amending his bill to include “safe harbor” provisions for health care providers.
Sen. Nicole LeFavour, D-Boise, and Sen. Diane Bilyeu, D-Pocatello cast the two no votes, saying the measure goes too far.
Sen. Dan Schmidt, D-Moscow, a physician, raised concerns about the bill but voted for it.
Schmidt said the bill “doesn’t in a clear way address the condition of suffering” because it puts law enforcement in the room “when a difficult conversation needs to occur….It takes space, it takes compassion, it takes peace. And my sense of this bill is it does not come from that place.”
S.B. 1070 is backed by the Idaho Medical Association and Right to Life of Idaho. The “safe harbor” provisions protect health care providers dispensing medications and withholding or withdrawing treatment.
Fulcher said Idaho will join 30 other states with similar laws. S.B. 1070 makes it a crime to provide the physical means by which another person commits or attempts to commit suicide or participates in a physical act by which another person commits or attempts to commit suicide.
“This is a crime of intent and a motive must be established,” Fulcher said.