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Tennessee

Current Status

There is no legislative activity around death with dignity in Tennessee.

Polling

In a May 2015 Vanderbilt University poll, 55 percent of Tennesseans expressed approval with death with dignity legislation.

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History

In 2017, Tennessee State Representative Tim Wirgau (R-District 75) sponsored HB 1394, an assisted dying bill, which he withdrew it from committee a week later. Tennessee State Senator Reginald Tate (D-Shelby) introduced S 1378, a companion right-to-die bill, the same day.

In 2015, Tennessee State Representative Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) with two co-sponsors, Rep. David Alexander (R-Moore) and Rep. Judd Matheny (R-Coffee), sponsored HB 1040, Tennessee Death with Dignity Act, which was moved to summer study by the House Subcommittee that considered it. Senator Reginald Tate (D-Shelby) sponsored the companion bill, SB 1362, with the same outcome. A hearing was held on June 9. The bills remained on file for the 2016 session, during which it did not move forward.

The aid in dying movement was championed in 2015 by prominent Tennessee political figure John Jay Hooker who, in his last year of life, circumvented the legislature by filing a lawsuit asking for death with dignity through the courts. The case was in the appeals process when Hooker died.

The 2015 session was the first time a death with dignity bill was considered in the Tennessee legislature.