Skip to comments.Vermont signs euthanasia bill into law
Posted on 05/21/2013 2:12:00 AM PDT by markomalley
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) signed into law what Compassion & Choices, a group that advocates suicide, calls a "breakthrough" moment. In doing so, Shumlin approved a law that, according to the advocacy group, supposedly will let dying, mentally competent people determine when they have endured enough suffering and empowers them to end their lives with dignity. Specifically, it will provide criminal, civil and professional protections for physicians who prescribe medication to mentally competent, terminally ill patients that they can ingest to achieve a peaceful death. Vermont is the first state to approve such a law legislatively. "Vermonters who face terminal illness and are in excruciating pain at the end of their lives now have control over their destinies. This is the right thing to do," said Shumlin on May 20.
The law makes Vermont the first state in the eastern United States, and the fourth state nationwide, to have such a law on the books.
In a release, the leader of Compassion & Choices, Barbara Coombs Lee said she approved, saying, "This historic achievement is a political breakthrough that will boost support for death-with-dignity bills nationwide." The Compassion & Choices president, a physician assistant, was the co-author of Oregons so-called Death-with-Dignity law and also served as an advisor in successfully passing similar legislation in neighboring Washington State. Both were ballot initiatives passed by popular vote. In 2009, the Supreme Court of Montana ruled in a case brought by Compassion & Choices, Baxter v. Montana, that the mountain state's public policy supports mentally competent, terminally ill patients being able to choose aid in dying.
"Gov. Shumlin and Vermont legislators have shattered a barrier by becoming the first politicians to show the courage to enact a death-with-dignity law," added Coombs Lee. "Given the high margin of public support for end-of-life choices nationwide, it is only a matter of time before legislatures in Massachusetts,New Jersey, and other states that are currently considering death-with-dignity bills enact them into law."
The Vermont law will have requirements similar to the Oregon and Washington laws, but the Vermont requirements will expire after a three-year period. It is then that the Vermont law will follow the model in Montana. Since 1997, 673 people have killed themselves in Oregon with drugs prescribed under the law, the Oregon health department reported earlier this year. In Massachusetts, voters narrowly defeated last year a ballot measure to legalize doctor-assisted suicide by a margin of 51-49. Expressing opposition to the measure when it was passed by the Vermont legislature last week, was the Roman Catholic diocese of Burlington. On its website, the diocese stated, Physician-assisted suicide will forever transform the role of physician from one who preserves life to one who takes life. The diocese added, True compassion calls us to embrace those who are dying, not provide them with the means to end their lives.
The new law allows prescribing lethal substances to patients suffering from incurable and irreversible disease, in physicians view, and who are expected to live but six months or less. The patients physicians must agree that the patients diagnosis is terminal and that the patient is capable of informed consent. In order to be prescribed the lethal drugs, patients must request them three times, with a 15-day period between the requests, and then self-administer. Governor Shumlin said in advance of the signing that the law offers Vermonters a choice to control their destiny and avoid unnecessary suffering.
Opponents of the bill have said it could encourage people to kill themselves out of fear they are imposing a burden on their family or out of undue influence from potential heirs.
Catholic Bishop Salvatore R. Matano of Burlington denounced doctor-prescribed suicide in a letter published on January 22. As we care for the child so must we care for all persons in the vast spectrum of life, the bishop said. When we subjectively determine when life begins and ends, when it is viable or not, when it is too burdensome to endure, we begin a path toward self-destruction. Life is no longer precious, but just another commodity in the business of living.
Bishop Matano expressed the fear that the new law will allow health insurance companies and the government to encourage sick people to end their lives instead of seeking effective treatment. According to the bishop, two such cases have occurred already in states where the form of suicide is legal. Willfully killing those who are sick, disabled or dying, said the bishop, is morally unacceptable and a tragic offense against life.
According to USA Today, Bob Ullrich, a board member of Patient Choices Vermont, said of the signing It means peace of mind and comfort to a lot of people, including me, that I hope no one ever has to use the law, but to know every day of your life that its there should such an occurrence happen. While the venue for the signing was packed with supporters, their were detractors as well. Were here as witnesses, said opponent Carolyn McMurray of a group called True Dignity Vermont is encouraging Vermonters to report abuses of the law. We believe this bill was drafted hastily.
Shumlin said that the May 20 signing also takes place on his father's 88th birthday. The governor said that his mother says she supports the new law because it gives her option if she becomes ill and in pain.
Since the law goes into effect immediately, physicians and medical facilities are trying to determine how to participate with the law, even while bureaucrats are coming up with regulations for physicians to follow. Media reports suggest that it is unlikely that any physicians in Vermont will act immediately to terminate their patients.
Within the next 30 days, Vermont's Health Department will prepare guidelines for physicians to follow. They are granted immunity from prosecution if they follow the state's requirements, which include making sure the patient is acting voluntarily and is of sane mind. Those guidelines will expire in three years. The physician directing the state health department supports the new law. Vermont's attorney general plans to discuss with his staff how on how to interpret the law and how his office will cooperate with the health department.
I may never understand why leftists desire to kill themselves and others by the quickest means possible.
There are times when I just have to wonder... Why are Democrats so insistent about terminating the lives of the helpless? Both those in the womb and those in the oldest amongst us?
Sign here please.
First it will require our signatures when we are lucid and competent enough to understand what we are signing, next it will be next of kin, then the state or the IRS as guardian ad litem depending if you meet the “productivity quotient”. Incrementalism. That’s the way they roll.
I remember well when Dick Lamm, the CO governor said what typifies his party’s stance on dying and “getting out of the way.”
It's because they are unabashed hedonists, and helpless people get in their way. How can you have a good time if you have babies and Grandma to take care of?
Follow the money.
The world view fears pain, death, and all that. Better to take a pill and die than be uncomfortable.
What should one do when their spouse begs to be put out of their misery?
Obviously you throw out the hippocratic oath and bastardize the entire medical industry from one of "doing no harm" to one where we can off those we think are going to die anyway. That slippery slope to offing them without their asking for it, will happen very very quickly afterwards.
ITS should be IRS.
Why self-administer? Are they admitting a moral wrong doing if the physician administered for them? And what would that wrongdoing be? There is an admission of evil here but no remedy for it. The physician still cooperates in murder, just one step removed. It is only NOT murder because the state arbitrarily decides to define it that way.
If competent, why have to ask three times separated over 15 days? Here is another admission of evil in this law. They appear to be afraid of making a mistake over competency but so what? Why be afraid of the mistake if the life has no meaning? There are now two classes of citizens here, the competent and the incompetent.
Palliative care is pretty good at keeping the pain as controlled as possible. I understand that is a broad statement, but for the most part it is true. I have experienced end of life care for three relative in the past year. None of them suffered to the point where I felt the need to kill them.
Of course, others mileage may vary.
The key is to take some time to understand the pain options before you get into the middle of it. No one needs to die in pain.
Yet Freeper after FReeper have shared their agonizing personal experience that palliative care didn't work for their loved ones.
I’m not talking about doctors or institutions, I mean individuals, usually the elder.
It’s probably more to avoid legal crap for the family during and after a very sensitive and personal time.
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