Ohio House Unanimously Passes Bill Making Assisted Suicide a Felony

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio House of Representative unanimously passed a bill this week that would make assisted suicide a felony.

H.B. 470, authored by State Sen. Bill Seitz, passed on Thursday after being approved by the House 92-5 in May.

“[N]o person shall knowingly cause another person to commit or attempt to commit suicide by doing either of the following: (1) Providing the physical means by which the other person commits or attempts to commit suicide; (2) Participating in a physical act by which the other person commits or attempts to commit suicide,” it reads.

Commission of the crime would be a third-degree felony punishable up to five years in prison.

Seitz told Cleveland.com earlier this week that his bill is similar to Michigan’s assisted suicide law, passed in 1998 to stop Jack Kevorkian from ending lives in the state.

He explained that he introduced the measure after some pro-life groups expressed concern over another piece of legislation, the Medical Order for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLT) bill, which would allow residents diagnosed with a terminal illness to discuss with their doctor whether or not they wish to be hospitalized, provided comfort care or resuscitated.

Denise Leipold, executive director of Right to Life of Northeast Ohio, told reporters that the MOLT bill has the “potential for abuse and the possibility that it could easily be used to expedite death and promote euthanasia.”

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But William Hurford, chief medical officer of UC Health, opined that the “document will allow an individual, whose belief is to sustain life, to have [an] order that supports that belief, just as much as someone who would choose to withhold life-sustaining treatment.”

“We do believe in the MOLST bill,” Seitiz said, “but we also are firmly against assisted suicide. And how can we prove it to you? We’re going to make it a felony of the third degree if you do it.”

H.B 470 now goes to the desk of Gov. John Kasich for signing.

As previously reported, lawmakers also passed a bill this week that would ban abortion when a heartbeat is detected.

“A person who intends to perform an abortion on a pregnant woman shall determine if there is the presence of a fetal heartbeat of the unborn human individual that the pregnant woman is carrying according to standard medical practice,” the Unborn Heartbeat Protection Act reads in part.

“Except when a medical emergency exists that prevents compliance with this division, no person shall perform an abortion on a pregnant woman prior to determining if the fetus the pregnant woman is carrying has a detectable fetal heartbeat,” it declares, punishing violators with up to a year of jail time and/or other disciplinary action.

Fetal development experts state that an infant’s heart begins beating just 20-25 days after conception.

“This is just flat out the right thing to do,” said state Sen. Kris Jordan, R-Ostrander, who introduced the bill. “It affords the most important liberty of all: the opportunity to live.”

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