Bisbee City Council Passes Aid-In-Dying Resolution

By Alexandra Olgin
Published: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 - 5:29pm

The Bisbee City Council is urging the Cochise County Attorney to de-prioritize prosecuting those who aid terminally ill patients in ending their lives. The city's action on Tuesday makes it the first city in Arizona to take this step.  

The resolution passed narrowly with a 4-3 vote.

City Councilwoman Joan Hansen voted for the measure.  

“It’s symbolic,” she said. “The intent is to keep the discussion going and hopefully [have it] picked up by other cities and also at the state level.”

Oregon, Vermont and Washington have death with dignity laws that allow doctors to prescribe medication to terminally ill adult residents to hasten their death.

The resolution doesn’t change Arizona law, which considers it a felony to intentionally provide the means another person uses to commit suicide.  

Cochise County Attorney Brian McIntyre said he can’t guarantee not to charge someone for this crime.

“As someone whose mother and father passed away from leukemia, I feel personally a certain way about aid in dying,” McIntyre said. “However, when I took the oath that I did, I swore to uphold the law of Arizona.”

In his 10 years at the county attorney’s office, McIntyre said none of these cases have crossed his desk, but he acknowledged the resolution could be a consideration in a potential future case.   

At least four people have been prosecuted for the crime in Maricopa County in the last six years.

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