RI Senate Judiciary Committee holds Compassionate Care Act bill for further study

Last week, the Lila Manfield Sapinsley Compassionate Care Act (S0598) was heard publicly before the Rhode Island Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee voted unanimously to hold the bill for further study. Not all of the testimony in opposition to the bill was religious in nature. Not all religious testimony was in opposition. Not all of the testimony in opposition to the bill was categorically opposed.

Some valid points were raised by medical professionals and disability advocates at the hearing. For example, that the bill only requires psychiatric evaluation if referred by the physician, that "communication through persons familiar with the patient's manner of communicating" might create the potential for abuse when patients have disabilities, and that we must make sure there are no loopholes that can be exploited by an overburdened medical system to withhold care.

We think it's possible to address these concerns to create legislation that will give people the freedom to choose while closing loopholes that may allow for abuse. We will continue to keep you informed of developments on this bill.