A bill that would allow terminally ill patients to end their own lives with a doctor present stalled 4-4 in the Nebraska judiciary committee.
Nebraska could join 5 other states where this is legal, Montana, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and California.
But the sponsor Senator Ernie Chambers said he’s confident he can flip one vote in the committee and keep the measure alive.
If that does not work, Chambers claims he will make sure it reaches the debate floor through an amendment.
Supporters of what some call “assisted death” vowed to fight on.
“My sister had so much pain that it was very difficult,” said Cathy Roller.
Roller’s sister was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer December of last year, and died a month later.
“She was so uncomfortable,” said Roller.
Roller said her sister was in such pain, she tried to starve herself to end her life early, “It was painful and I don't want that for myself”.
Roller wants what she calls “death with dignity”, having the option to end her life if diagnosed with a terminal illness.
Under Senator Chamber’s bill, life-ending measures would require two doctor’s approval and the patient must be terminally ill with less than 6-months to live. The patient could also stop the request at any time.
Local doctors find themselves in the middle of this conversation.
“I'm a little more concerned about people choosing death because they are afraid of what's coming next,” said Methodist Medical Director of Palliative medicine Doctor Lou Lukas.
Lukas is neutral on the bill, and says there needs to be more research and discussion on the issue.
“I think that this desire to end life early really points to the level of distress that people feel and so we need to have some good conversation but we need a more considered approach than what we have right now,” said Lukas.
During a hearing last week, many doctors brought up concerns about this bill going against their moral beliefs.
“We have to make sure certain that we are not having health care providers forced into a situation that they are uncomfortable with but if this is important to society, do patients have the right venue?” said Lukas.
For Roller, she doesn’t want to suffer like her sister did in her final days, “I think that if a person wants to choose their time of death given that they have been diagnosed with a terminal disease they should be able to do it”.
An assisted suicide bill will likely hit another hurdle if it reaches Governor Pete Rickett’s desk. Ricketts recently made his opinion knows on Twitter saying the bill “perverts the role of physicials as healers and creates ethical conflicts. I oppose this effort to legalize assisted suicide.”