VAEH to expand efforts as Governor signs S.77

Press Memo:Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare

The Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare announced today that the organization will expand their efforts to include offering help to those who are feeling coerced or pressured into requesting lethal drugs under Vermont’s new physician-assisted suicide law.

Governor Peter Shumlin is scheduled to sign S.77 on Monday, May 20, 2013. Once signed, the law is effective immediately.

“This poorly-crafted bill has even fewer safeguards than the Oregon law,” stated Edward Mahoney, President of VAEH. “We fear that vulnerable Vermonters will feel pressured or coerced into making a request for a lethal dose of medication. Several problematic Oregon cases have been well-publicized, and those interested can find more information on our web site.” (

For the past decade, VAEH has promoted the provision of excellent health care at the end of life, including the best of hospice and palliative medicine; and the organization has consistently warned of the dangers of legalized physician-assisted suicide. With the passage and enactment of S.77 VAEH saw the need to expand their efforts.

When patients are feeling coerced or pressured into requesting lethal drugs to end their life, they need a place to turn for help.” added Mahoney. “With our broad network of concerned health care providers throughout Vermont, VAEH will seek to address the concerns of patients and try to help alleviate the pressures that are causing them to feel they have no other choice.”

Given that the Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living has a history of being unable to respond to complaints of abuse in a timely manner, as well as the fact that the Governor, Attorney General and the Commissioner of Health all strongly advocated for physician-assisted suicide despite the known risks it poses, Mahoney thinks it is important for Vermonters to have a place to turn for help. “We now have state-sanctioned suicide in Vermont. If the State won’t protect Vermonters, we will try.


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