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Nevada governor vetoes medical aid-in-dying bill

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Alex Gonzalez

(Nevada News Service) This week, Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo vetoed Senate Bill 239, which would have allowed medical aid in dying in Nevada.

The bill would have given mentally competent and terminally ill adults the option to obtain a medical prescription for a peaceful death if they chose to use it.

Hanna Olivas, a terminally ill Nevadan who voted for Lombardo, said she is disappointed, angry and frustrated, calling his decision a "cowardly act." Olivas acknowledged no one wants to think about dying, but for those with terminal illnesses, preparation and keeping their medical autonomy is paramount. 

"I absolutely do not want to be in a hospital or in hospice," Olivas emphasized. "And the governor is basically saying 'Well, too bad. Too bad for you. Too bad for your family. And too bad for any other person who is facing a terminal diagnosis.'"

In a statement, the governor said, "while end-of-life decisions are never easy," he could not support a bill allowing what he terms "physician-assisted suicide." He also said he did not feel "comfortable" signing the bill into law due to "recent progress in science and medicine." 

Sara Manns, Nevada campaign director for the Compassion & Choices Action Network, called it "absurd and cruel" for the governor to suggest palliative care can alleviate suffering at the end of life, when it is not always the case.

Manns said state lawmakers heard testimony confirming the realities from patients' families and from doctors. Manns thinks the veto statement disregards Nevadans and their experiences. 

"We have to really examine what happened here, and figure out how we're going to win in light of this veto, which went against record high polling numbers in support of aid-in-dying access for Nevadans," Manns pointed out. "Thousands of phone calls, thousands of petitions, thousands of emails."

Manns added advocates are already looking at different strategies to continue their fight to grant the right to medical aid-in-dying to terminally ill Nevadans.