Should Tennesseans Have The Right To Die? Lawmakers Prepare For Debate

Jun 2, 2015

State lawmakers are preparing for a debate over whether terminally ill Tennesseans should be able to get a doctor's help to end their own lives.

The Senate Health & Welfare Committee announced Tuesday that it will hold a special meeting next week on a proposed "Death With Dignity" bill.

No votes are anticipated, but a variety of people are expected to testify, including supporter John Jay Hooker. The civil rights attorney and two-time Democratic nominee for governor has been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

"It's a barbaric thing to do to tell a man who suffering that he's got to continue to suffer," Hooker said in a telephone interview. "And the question is whether or not the government should tell you when you can die or whether you ought to be able to tell yourself."

Only three states have approved right-to-die laws. Tennessee legislators put off the bill during the spring legislative session but could take it up again next year.