Vermont moves to pass end-of-life choice law
May 14th, 2013
08:13 AM ET
9 years ago

Vermont moves to pass end-of-life choice law

(CNN) – Vermont moved Monday to become the fourth state in the nation with a law permitting doctors to prescribe deadly doses of medication to patients facing terminal illness, and the first to pass such a measure through the state legislature.

The measure passed the Vermont House 75-65. Gov. Pete Shumlin, who acts as chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, has voiced strong support for the bill. If he signs it, Vermont will become the first eastern state permitting doctors and ill patients to choose a path to death through lethal medication.

Oregon and Washington both passed aid-in-dying measures through ballot referendums. Montana's law was put in place through a court order.

Vermont's law would contain multiple regulations and safeguards against abuse, including requiring the patient to request three times – twice orally, and once in writing in the presence of witnesses – a lethal dose of drugs.

Doctors must ensure patients are fully versed in their diagnosis and prognosis, including the possibility of medical error in estimating the remaining time a patient has to live.

Patients, who must be deemed capable of decision-making by the prescribing doctor, would self-administer the medication. No doctor would be required to aid a patient who chooses to die.

For the first three years the law is in effect, doctors would be required to file extensive records with the state government, though those provisions expire in 2016.

Supporters of so-called "death with dignity" laws hailed the Vermont House's passage of the new law.

"This historic legislative victory proves that the aid-in-dying issue is no longer the third rail of politics. In fact, it's a winning issue on which Gov. Shumlin campaigned," said Barbara Coombs Lee, the president of Compassion & Choices, a national group promoting aid-in-dying laws.

Filed under: Vermont
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Rick McDaniel

    Nice to see some respect for human dignity.

    May 14, 2013 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  2. thomase

    I think this is a good thing. Seeing a family member diagnosed with stage 4 bone cancer die a death dragged out under heavy morphine is no way to spend your final days. We ended up having to chip in for medical bills when the insurance company declined the claims and the costs were too over the top for my grandmother to bare alone.

    May 14, 2013 08:59 am at 8:59 am |
  3. Fair is Fair

    Slippery slope...

    May 14, 2013 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  4. Pete

    Does that mean people dying from certain types of incurable cancers and other medical maladies can go in peace as they want,WHY SO LONG!!Dr.Jack Kavorkian rest in peace sir your dream of a respectable end for some peoples lives has become a reality..It's amazing how its a threat to people in their decision to end their lives but its not in hospitals and other institutions when they keep you on life support for years just to drain ones medical insurance...Now the insanity is over and cool,competent heads prevail and yes if I had a choice to go in peace with dignity that's the way for me not wanting to drag my family through the stressful toll of watching me rot with the help of a life sustaining machine and at the hands of some hospital employee that holds my life in his hands on the end of an electric cord..If its my time to go let it be on my terms not the insurance companies!!!

    May 14, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  5. Pete

    Dr.Jack Kavorkian your lifelong work has finally been recognized,rest in peace sir and I with others hear the screams of thousands of insurance company CEOs crying foul because there goes their easy money!!!

    May 14, 2013 09:42 am at 9:42 am |
  6. nothing new here

    Good better best!
    REAL conservatism was never about legislating everyone's bedrooms or doctor's visits. Moreover, people like Rush have made the whole concept of 'limited government' a bad joke.
    Let me say, as a Libertarian/fiscal conservative, these loud people do not speak for all of us. I applaud these brave souls that are willing to stand up and say "enough". Enough with all this moral legislating, esp. when the people that are making these laws do not bother to tow the line themselves.

    May 14, 2013 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  7. nothing new here

    Fair is Fair

    Slippery slope...
    Only for BIG government and BIG Pharma – and who cares about them?
    How about some compassion for the little people for once?

    May 14, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  8. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    My comments are being blocked as well as my responses which is a good thing for Fair is Fair...
    "Slippery slope".... spoke like someone who evidently has never seen a dear one in the last stages of cancer that has metastacized into your lungs and other vital organs. Where your lungs have filled up fluids making you feel as if you're drowning/asphyxiating because you can't get enough oxygen into what's left of your lungs... Do you think your ultra-conservative little heart would be able to suffer through that Fair? My mom did, and I am just glad that others now have a CHOICE to avoid such a terrible, terrible way to die.
    Dr Kevorkian was ahead of his time.

    May 14, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  9. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Please pardon the typos,grammar etc. I got a little emotional there...

    May 14, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  10. Jam

    No one should have to slowly waste away in pain and suffering due to illnesses beyond their control. Having any level of control over ending such meaningless living is a victory for those enduring such hardship.

    May 14, 2013 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    @Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Apparently I am not allowed to discuss this issue (using my own parents experiences as a talking point). Yesterday I mentioned one in five. Today is much like another day. Go figure.

    I would like to offer you (and Pete) my sympathy ... we share in having watched our loved ones suffer needlessly.

    May 14, 2013 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. Fair is Fair

    @ Dom Mom –

    First of all, you have NO idea what I've seen nor been through. In fact, my Dad just passed away last month from metasticized colon cancer. And believe me, it was not pretty. I've been a nurse since my late 20's, and I can pretty much guarantee while I've probably not seen it ALL, I've seen much more than yourself. When the medical profession begins to go against their PRIMARY goal of preservation of life, it can become a slippery slope. So what's next? Non-terminal illness? Bad self esteem? My view may not be popular, and you know what? That's OK.

    May 14, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |