Republican Rep. Justin Pierce of Mesa says his bill will make it easier for attorneys to prosecute people for manslaughter for assisting in suicide by more clearly defining what it means to "assist."
House Bill 2565 defines assisting in suicide as offering and providing the physical means used to commit suicide, such as a gun. Current state statute does not clearly define what it means to "assist."
The proposal was prompted by a difficult prosecution stemming from a 2007 assisted suicide in Maricopa County.
Four members (Final Exit) were tried for manslaughter. Two pleaded guilty to lower charges, while another two others were acquitted.
Rebecca Baker, the legislative liaison for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office who worked with Pierce on his bill, said juries acquitted those two members because they did not clearly understand what it means to assist.
"The conclusion we ultimately came to was that we should just have the statute be more specific," she said.