Despite previous defeats, physican assisted suicide is being taken up yet again by Vermont Senate committees. Passionate testimonies both for and gainst the proposed mover were presented to these committees. The full story was contained in this Burlignton Free Press article. Unfortunately, the article starts out by missing the point:
William Wilson of Underhill started off the steady stream of Vermonters who stepped to the microphone Tuesday evening to speak for and against a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to hasten their deaths with a lethal dose of medication if they choose.
“The bill simply offers end-of-life choice,” Wilson said. “Its presence alone is comforting.”
If that was all it was about, there would be no controversy. It is not merely a matter of patients making such a choice on their own, but having a physician prescribe the medication. That is why the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Health Care opposes the bill. They see it as a corruption of the ethical code of the health care profession going all the way back to the Hippocratic Oath. Regardless of whether one supports or opposes the bill, an accurate representation of what the bill proposes should be basic criteria for an open and honest discussion of its merits because it looks like the vote is going to be close:
Members of two Senate committees listened as they consider whether Vermont should become the third state in the country to allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses to those with less than six months to live who request the option. Oregon and Washington have such laws. Massachusetts voters defeated a similar law at the polls in November.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee is taking testimony on the issue throughout the week. The five-member panel is expected to pass a bill Friday that first was circulated Tuesday. The Senate Judiciary Committee is then expected to consider the bill, with a majority of that panel opposing it but sending it to the full Senate for a vote anyway.
Supporters and opponents say a vote in the full Senate — perhaps within three weeks — is likely to be very close. While some senators’ stance on the issue is well-known, at least five of the Senate’s 30 members told the Burlington Free Press on Tuesday they hadn’t entirely decided how they would vote.