In Bipartisan Vote, Delaware House Passes Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill for First Time

Legislation Has Support of 72% Delaware Voters, Record-High 17 Sponsors

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For the first time, the Delaware House of Representatives passed the Ron Silverio/Heather Block Delaware End of Life Options Act (HB140) Thursday in a bipartisan 21 to 16 vote. The bill, which has a record-high 17 sponsors and cosponsors, including all members of Democratic legislative leadership, next moves to the Senate for its consideration. 

HB140 would permit mentally capable, terminally ill adults who live in Delaware the option to request and self-ingest prescription medication to peacefully end their suffering. The legislation stipulates a wide range of safeguards, including a requirement that two healthcare providers certify that a patient has a prognosis of six months or less to live, and that makes it a crime to coerce a terminally ill person into using medical aid in dying.

“I am dying of metastatic stage 4 breast cancer, so I am deeply grateful to Rep. Baumbach and House members who voted to pass this bill,” said Millsboro resident Diane Kraus, who worked for 35 years as an occupational therapist, 23 years in homecare and hospice, and watched her mother die in agony from metastatic breast cancer. “I know my bone and brain tumors are highly likely to cause me to suffer from intense pain at the end of my life. I urge our senators to pass this legislation as soon as they can, so I can avoid dying in intense pain, and pass peacefully.”

“Endings are important, and I want to leave my family with the legacy of a good death. I am thankful that Rep. Baumbach and other House members recognized with their votes that individuals with terminal illnesses should be able to have end-of-life care options that are compatible with their lives and experiences,” said Judy Govatos, a Wilmington resident living with stage 4 lymphoma. “I am advocating for the Senate to pass this law that will allow me and other people the option and compassion to do just one last thing. I want to live fully until I can’t, knowing that I have the option of dying gracefully.”

Baltimore resident Diane Kraus    Judy Govatos

Diane Kraus and Judy Govatos, terminally ill Delawareans who want the option of medical aid in dying.

A majority of Delaware voters and physicians support the option of medical aid in dying. In a 2020 survey, 72% of Delawareans surveyed said they support legislation that would allow medical aid in dying in Delaware; notably, voter support crossed demographic, geographic, and political lines across the state. In addition, a 2022 survey found that nearly three-in-four (74%) Delaware physicians support medical-aid-in-dying legislation, and 70% said they would want the option of medical aid in dying for themselves, if necessary.

HB140 is named in honor of two Delaware advocates for passing this legislation, Dover resident Ron Silverio and Lewes resident Heather Block, both of whom died in 2018 with needless suffering because they did not have the option of medical aid in dying.

“Delaware residents Ron Silverio and Heather Block knew their diseases almost always ended with a period of pain and suffering,” said Kim Callinan, President & CEO of Compassion & Choices/Compassion & Choices Action Network. “They advocated hard for medical aid-in-dying legislation but died after enduring needless suffering without the option they both desperately wanted. Passage of this act will honor the efforts of these two brave Delawareans.”

Medical aid in dying is authorized in 10 states and Washington, D.C., including Northeastern states Maine and New Jersey, representing 22% of the nation’s population.

For background information and Frequently Asked Questions about medical aid in dying, visit:      

About Compassion & Choices/Compassion & Choices Action Network

Compassion & Choices comprises two organizations that improve care and expand options at life’s end: Compassion & Choices (501(c)(3)) educates, empowers, defends, and advocates; the Compassion & Choices Action Network (501(c)(4)) focuses exclusively on legislation, ballot campaigns, and limited electoral work. 

Paid for by Compassion & Choices Action Network.