Companion death with dignity bills, the Wisconsin Compassionate Choices Act, did not advance in the 2019-2020 legislative session.
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It is my solemn hope that in the near future, Wisconsinites facing imminent death, have an option to avoid pain and suffering by making a final and dignified choice—to spend their final moments with their loved ones in a manner and at a time of their choosing.
Wisconsin has a long history of considering aid-in-dying bills.
A number of Wisconsin state legislators are co-sponsoring a pair of companion death with dignity bills, the Compassionate Choices Act. The bills were referred to each respective legislative chamber’s health committees.
SB 499, the Compassionate Choices Act
- Introduced on October 10, 2019
- Full text of SB 499
- Legislative history of SB 499
- Sponsors of SB 499:
- Senators: Fred Risser (D-Madison) – primary, Tim Carpenter (D), Chris Larson (D), Mark Miller (D), Jeff Smith (D), Lena Taylor (D)
- Representatives: Jimmy Anderson (D), Jill Billings (D), Dianne Hesselbein (D), Nick Milroy (D), Tod Ohnstad (D), Sondy Pope (D), Melissa Sargent (D), Mark Spreitzer (D), Lisa Subeck (D), Chris Taylor (D), Don Vruwink (D)
- Referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services
AB 552, the Compassionate Choices Act
- Introduced on October 18, 2019
- Full text of AB 552
- Legislative history of AB 552
- Sponsors of AB 552
- Representatives: Sondy Pope (D-Cross Plains) – primary, Jimmy Anderson (D-Fitchburg), Jill Billings (D-LaCrosse), Nick Milroy (D-South Range), Tod Ohnstad (D-Kenosha), Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Don Vruwink (D-Milton)
- Senators: Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee), Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), Mark Miller (D-Monona), Fred Risser (D-Madison), Jeff Smith (D-Au Claire), Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee)
- Referred to the House Committee on Public Health
Wisconsin State Representatives Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), Sondy Pope (D-Cross Plains), and 12 additional sponsors sponsored AB 216, the Compassionate Choices Act.
Introducing the bill, Representative Pope said, “[i]t is inhumane to force a person with a terminal illness to suffer needlessly. A compassionate society would allow them the choice to spend their last days where and with whomever they choose.”
Wisconsin States Senators Fred Risser (D-Madison), Janet Bewley (D-Ashland), Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee), and LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) co-sponsored the House bill and introduced its companion bill, SB 312, on June 23, 2017 (sponsors of the House bill co-sponsored the Senate bill).
The bills failed to pass in 2018.
In March 2015, Senator Risser plus 4 co-sponsors, and Representatives Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) and Sondy Pope (D-Cross Plains) plus 12 co-sponsors, introduced companion Death with Dignity measures, AB 67 and SB 26, in the Senate and Assembly, respectively. The bills were carried over to 2016 and stalled in committee.
The 2015-2016 session was the 8th time a death with dignity bill was introduced in the past 20 years. The proposed bill was not heard by either chamber in any of the previous seven attempts: