Attorney General Marty Jackley’s proposed bills are in the hopper—see Senate Bills 61 through 65.
Senate Bill 65, one of two get-tough-on-drugs measures from our gubernatorially campaigning A.G., appears to have implications for assisted suicide. You’ll recall that backers of legalized assisted suicide failed to collect enough signatures to submit an initiative to the 2018 ballot after facing angry and organized resistance from anti-abortion Republicans. Assisted suicide thus remains illegal in South Dakota—frowned upon by SDCL 34-12D-20 and a Class 6 felony under SDCL 22-16-37.
Any person who, for consideration, intentionally distributes any controlled substance or counterfeit substance in violation of this section and another person dies as a result of using that substance, the sentence for the principal felony shall be enhanced by increasing the class of the principal felony two levels. The enhancement may not exceed the sentence for a Class C felony [Senate Bill 65, requested by the Attorney General, 2018.01.05].
SB 65 obviously targets makers and dealers of illegal drugs. Cook meth, sell it, and if one of your customers dies from that meth, and we’ll jack your penalty up from Class 4 felony to Class 2; make meth that kills a kid, and your penalty goes from Class 2 felony to Class C (that’s life and $50K).
But consider the implications for assisted suicide. Suppose I obtain secobarbital, one of the commonly used assisted-suicide drugs in Oregon, where assisted suicide is legal for terminally ill patients. Secobarbital is a controlled substance, a Schedule II drug under SDCL 34-20B-16. I sell it to a terminally ill South Dakotan who takes it and dies from it. Under current law, I face Class 6 felony charges, for which I would enjoy presumptive probation. SB 65 appears to raise that penalty to Class 4 felony, which sends me to prison for sure.
SB 65 goes to Senate Judiciary for its first hearing (date not yet set). Its reasonable focus is meth, but we should listen to see if it has implications outside drug crimes to assisted suicide.