New Hampshire

2016 Doctor-Prescribed Suicide Study Bill Proposed
Senate Bill 426
Text of bill
The bill did not pass.

Background

New Hampshire, with a population of 1.3 million people, has a suicide rate that is above the national average. [American Assn. of Suicidology, 2005] Although, nationally, more people die from suicide each year than from homicide, the difference between the percentage of suicides and homicides is far greater in New Hampshire than it is nationwide. [NH Bureau of Health Statistics and Data Management, 2003]

Eleven percent of New Hampshire residents are without health insurance coverage and, of those with health insurance, 21.5 percent are enrolled in HMOs. [U.S. Census Bureau 2009 Statistical Abstract]

Elder abuse is a growing problem in the state. Between 2004 and 2005, elder abuse increased 92 percent. [NH DHHS, 2009]

Current law regarding assisted suicide

Assisted suicide is a felony in New Hampshire. [N.H. Rev. Stat. ยง 630:4]

2014

New Hampshire once again considering bill to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide.
Under the bill (HB 1325) individuals with a “terminal condition” would be eligible for a lethal prescription.
“Terminal condition” is defined so broadly that it could include people with severe disabilities, progressive conditions and other incurable or irreversible conditions as long as the doctor believes the patient’s condition will result in a “premature death.”
A hearing on the bill is scheduled for February 4.
Bill status

2011 proposed legislation

HB 513, the “Death with Dignity Act,” an Oregon-style bill to permit doctor-prescribed suicide met with defeat in the NH House of Representatives on March 16, 2011.

2009-2010 Defeated legislation

“NH House defeats assisted suicide bill”
On Wednesday, January 13, 2010, the New Hampshire House defeated H.B. 304 by a vote of 242-113.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 14-3 against the bill. The full House will vote on the recommendation in January 2010. (November 10, 2009)

H.B. 304 has been retained in committee. It will be studied and revised over the summer and is unlikely to come up for a vote in the full house until January 2010. (March 17, 2009)

H.B. 304, as amended, changed the definition of “terminal condition” and the witnessing requirements.

NH H.B. 304, the Death with Dignity Act, is similar to Oregon’s assisted-suicide law and Washington’s Death with Dignity Act. It would transform the crime of assisted suicide into a “medical treatment” and would permit each of New Hampshire’s physicians to prescribe drugs to patients for the purpose of committing suicide.

Analysis of 2009 legislation (H.B. 304, as amended)

View

Past attempts to transform assisted suicide into a medical treatment in New Hampshire

Attempts to legalize assisted suicide were made, but failed, in 1996 (HB 339), in 1998 (HB 1433-FN) and in 1999-2000 (SB 44).

Articles

“New Hampshire Assisted Suicide Bill Redefines ‘Terminal Condition’ Broadly Enough to Make Anyone with a Significant Disability or Chronic Condition Eligible”
(Not Dead Yet — January 31, 2014)
On the face of it, it’s still a bill that would restrict “eligibility” for getting lethal doses in order to commit suicide to people with “terminal conditions.” But when you get into the actual definition, it’s clear that the sponsors of this bill want “terminal condition” to mean something other than what the rest of us mean.

“N.H. House votes to repeal education tax credit program, study ‘end of life decisions'”
(Concord Monitor — February 20, 2013)
[T]he House voted to create a committee to craft possible legislation dealing with “end of life decisions.” …. Rep. Joseph Hagan, a Chester Republican, stated “We believe…that this process is all a euphemism for state-sponsored, physician-assisted suicide, and that the study bill, study committee, would lead to this as a potential bill.”

“Sponsor: Assisted suicide bill DOA”
( Union Leader – – March 1, 2011 )
After the NH doctor-prescribed suicide bill was met with opposition in a House Judiciary Committee hearing, co-sponsor Steve Vaillancourt promised he would not go so quietly, at one point shouting at a member of the committee. “If it were up to me. I would say anybody should be able to end their life,” he said snapping his fingers, “just like that.”

“NH committee votes against assisted suicide bill”
(November 10, 2009)
A bill to legalize assisted suicide in New Hampshire lost key backing from a legislative committee when both supporters and opponents joined forces to reject it.

“Professor proposes controversial bill”
( Keene Equinox – Keene, NH USA – March 12, 2009 )
A proposed bill by a Keene State College professor regarding physician-assisted suicide would make New Hampshire the third state to legalize the practice.