WHEELERweek – 06/12/17 Death with Dignity


As published by The Wheeler Report – January 13, 1995…

Rep. Frank Boyle and Sen. Fred Risser unveiled their “death with dignity” assisted suicide proposal. They are seeking co-sponsors before formally introducing it this March.

AB-174 (Boyle) and SB-90 (Risser) were introduced March 2, 1995.  The Senate bill received a public hearing.

AB-32 (Boyle) and SB-27 (Risser) were introduced in 1997. According to a Wisconsin State Journal story dated May 25, 1997 Rep. Boyle said, “This legislation is absolutely necessary, because it regulates what is routinely done every day.” Sen. Risser said, “The issue is whether those who are mentally competent and know that their death is imminent should have the freedom to decide when and how to die.”

Several bills relating to assisted suicide had also been introduced in previous sessions. 1993 AB-755, 1971: SB-670, SB-717 and in 1975: SB-1207

And Today …

AB-216 (Pope) has been introduced this session. Sen. Risser said he is planning to introduce the Senate companion bill.

Rep. Pope said, “I have introduced this bill very selfishly in that if I am terminally ill, I do not want my life to end in avoidable, needless suffering and expense. If death has been determined to be inevitable and certain then I want the option to choose a peaceful and gentle exit at the time of my choosing, surrounded by the people I choose. I have written so many safeguards into the bill that for many the option is not even feasible.  I did not do this because of others. I am doing it so that I and other like-minded people can make that choice for ourselves.”

Sen. Risser said, “In my view, mentally competent persons who know death is imminent should be given the freedom to die on their own terms.”

Wisconsin law currently prohibits assisted suicide, specifically WI Stat. 940.12, and is a Class H felony.  According to the Legislative Reference Bureau, WI Stat. 940.12, in a slightly different form than today, was enacted in 1955, but Wisconsin statutes have prevented assisted suicide since 1849. Then the law read, “Every person deliberately assisting another in the commission of self-murder, shall be deemed guilty of manslaughter in the first degree.”

Several public hearings have been held on assisted suicide bills since 1995, but none of the proposals have been voted on in committee.  A public hearing on AB-216 has not been scheduled as of this writing.