When You Would Love to Take a Position, But Know You Probably Shouldn't

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A guest blog entry from Jay Smith, MD, MPH, NHPHA Policy Committee Co-Chair

Some ideas stir great passions that are hard to sort through to come to wise decisions.  That ought to mean legislators sit down and look at the pros and cons of policies in our NH laws that affect the way we live and die.  But even talking about such issues sounds to some like we know we want to change current laws so some legislators oppose even a study committee.  This happened on a bill that will be on the House floor on Wednesday, March 3.

HB 151, establishing a committee to study end-of-life decisions.  Majority: Ought To Pass.  Minority: Inexpedient to Legislate.

Rep. Larry R. Phillips for the Majority of Judiciary.  A bi-partisan majority supports helping citizens encounter end-of-life with personal, medical and appropriate decisons.  This bill would study innovative approaches to medical care and dying, many of which have been implemented in other states.  Through the efforts of such a committee, new initiatives could emerge. Vote: 9-7

Rep. Gary S. Hopper for the Minority of Judiciary.  The sponsor of HB 151 would like us to use taxpayer's money to study "end-of-life issues".  This is merely a eupemism for state-assisted suicide.  Although the minority has great compassion for those who are at the end of their natural lives, we believe that this issue has been studied at great length in many places around this country and there is no need for New Hampshire to pay for a study, too.  


Personally, I’m with the majority on this but it isn’t easy to see a public health implication that should have us ready to make a recommendation for this.  Maybe individual members of our association do feel that they have some important reasons to try to influence this debate.  If that is you, I urge you to write your representatives in the legislature.  And tell us what you think whether your write them or not!  We're always looking for input from members on our legislative positions, and want to ensure that we're advocating well and with careful consideration of all public health ramifications of the issues.   You can also visit our policy statement page to see if the topic is something on which we've already taken a position

No matter the political affiliation or area of expertise of our members, the NHPHA policy committee is committed to supporting smart public health policy as an organization, and through supporting our members to do the same individually.

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