By Chris Haring

Wisconsin lawmakers say they are introducing another medical aid in dying bill after a 2022 version failed to advance through the committee stage.

For the second time in as many years, lawmakers in Wisconsin have proposed a bill that could grant residents facing terminal illnesses the option to request medication to end their lives voluntarily.

Existing aid-in-dying states show much success, zero abuse

Senator Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), the lead author of the bill, expressed optimism, pointing out the success of similar laws in aid-in-dying states across the country. 

She told Darrielle Fair of WKOW 27 News that Wisconsin should also benefit from offering residents the comfort and autonomy they deserve in their final days. “It can work well in the state of Wisconsin too and give people relief that they need and that they deserve,” the senator said. 

The co-sponsorship period for the bill is currently open, with Sen. Hesselbein actively seeking additional support. Another state legislator, Senator Melissa Agard (D-Madison), has also said she plans to endorse the proposal.

Despite setbacks, momentum is with the right-to-die movement

Fair also spoke with Death with Dignity National Political Strategist Geoff Sugerman, who highlighted the positive impact of such laws in other states, providing peace of mind to those facing the end of their lives. Physician-assisted dying “allows [patients] the opportunity to bring their family together and say their last goodbyes and do so in a very loving, caring, and compassionate way,” he said.

Sugerman also noted that more states are considering aid-in-dying laws, adding he expects lawmakers to consider similar bills in Michigan, Massachusetts, and New York during upcoming legislative sessions.

Despite a setback when the 2022 End of Life Options Act failed to advance past the committee stage, there is renewed hope that this latest version will make it to the assembly and senate floors. As Death with Dignity continues to advocate for compassionate end-of-life options, we remain optimistic about the potential impact of this legislation for terminally ill Wisconsinites.

Draft legislation has been introduced in the Wisconsin legislature. Look out for the formal filing soon! For more information on how to get involved in efforts to bring a Death with Dignity law to Wisconsin, please visit the state page on our website.

Read and watch the story below:

Wisconsin lawmakers introduce Death with Dignity bill for terminally ill patients

By Darrielle Fair
published: Nov. 8, 2023

MADISON (WKOW) — Democratic lawmakers have introduced a bill in the state legislature that would allow Wisconsin residents with terminal illnesses to voluntarily request medication to end their lives.

The legislation requires the patient to be of sound mind, at least 18 years of age, and have a diagnosis confirming the patient has less than six months to live.

Patients could request a prescription medication that must be administered through a licensed attending physician. The bill defines a “terminal disease” as an incurable or irreversible disease.

“I have a list of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana, Vermont, Washington and Washington DC have all legalized death with dignity and that it’s working well there,” said Senator Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), the bill’s lead author.

“It can work well in the state of Wisconsin too and give people relief that they need and that they deserve,” she said.

Geoff Sugerman, National Political Strategist for the Death With Dignity, says the organization works to amplify the voices of terminally ill. He said it’s because they believe patients should have this right.

“We think that dying people want this as an option at the end of their life, and it brings them great peace of mind. It really allows them to live the last days of their lives instead of worrying about what might happen to them, what kind of suffering they’re facing at that particular point,” Sugerman said. “It allows them the opportunity to bring their family together and say their last goodbyes and do so in a very loving and caring and compassionate way.”

Sugerman said as more states begin to pass Death with Dignity laws, it has sparked interest among state legislatures to consider similar bills. Sugerman said their organization anticipates that Michigan, Massachusetts and New York will introduce bills sometime during the legislative session.

Senator Hesselbein said the co-sponsorship period to support the bill is still open to gain more support from lawmakers. She’s hoping the bill will make it to the assembly and senate floors this time.