Vermont set to become third U.S. state to allow assisted suicide

97769252

Vermont is poised to become the third U.S. state to allow doctor-assisted suicide, after its legislature passed a bill allowing physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients.

The bill passed late on Monday, and the governor has pledged to sign it into law.

Oregon and Washington state have legalized doctor-assisted suicide in voter referendums.

Vermont’s measure includes a number of safeguards. Both the patient’s primary physician and a consulting doctor must agree the patient is suffering from a terminal illness and is capable of making an informed decision to request death-inducing drugs. It also requires the patient to request the drugs twice, with 15 days separating the first and second requests.

The patients must administer the drugs to themselves.

“I am grateful that the legislature had such a thoughtful, respectful debate on this deeply personal issue,” said Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin. “We will now offer Vermonters who face terminal illness at the end of life a choice to control their destiny and avoid unnecessary suffering. I believe this is the right thing to do.”

Shumlin plans to sign the bill into law after the text is reviewed, spokeswoman Susan Allen said on Tuesday.

Vermont’s bill would only allow doctors in the state to prescribe fatal doses of drugs to Vermont residents. It would require the request for drugs to be witnessed by two disinterested people, defined as those who are not relatives or potential heirs, employees of health care facilities where the patient is being treated, nor his or her doctor.

The bill noted that since Oregon legalized suicide in 1998, some 1,050 patients have requested drugs to hasten death, and of those, 673 have taken their lives.

Similar bills to legalize physician-assisted suicide have been introduced in seven U.S. states: Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire and New Jersey, according to the Death with Dignity National Center. Bills that would specifically ban the practice have been introduced in Connecticut and Montana.

Advocates of assisted suicide say the practice can save patients of painful terminal illnesses, such as bone cancer, years of suffering. Opponents warn that measures allowing it may encourage people to take their own lives at the behest of potential heirs or because they fear they are imposing a burden on family.

Proponents of the bill, who had spent about a decade lobbying for the measure, applauded its passage.

“This is an historic day for the end of life choice movement,” said Dick Walters, president of advocacy group Patient Choices at End of Life. “This is an important step for champions of terminally ill patient autonomy rights.”

Opponents called the move a dangerous one, noting that it only requires disinterested witnesses at the time of the request but not at the time of death, when the prescription would be administered.

“The opportunity is created for the patient’s heir, or for another person who will benefit financially from the patient’s death, to administer the lethal dose to the patient without his consent,” said Margaret Dore of True Dignity Vermont.

 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Breaking: Local

Judge rules Tsarnaev can view victim autopsy photos

Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can view the autopsy photographs of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Local

Police warn of attempted assault on woman near…

Police in Cambridge issued an alert after a woman said she was the victim of an attempted sexual assault after leaving Porter Square early Wednesday.…

Local

Kevin Kayvon Edson: Finish line hoax suspect sent…

The man who allegedly left a backpack near the finish line on the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombings was due in court on Wednesday.

Local

Wahlbergs expanding Wahlburgers fast food joint across North…

Wahlburgers, a fast casual burger restaurant founded by brothers Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg and subject of a new A&E Network’s original series, “Wahlburgers”, announced expansion plans in North America,…

Television

'Dexter' star Jennifer Carpenter moves into producing role

The actress who played the title character's sister in "Dexter" is teaming up with producer George Stelzner to adapt Erika Hayasaki's book "The Death Class:…

The Word

Wahlburgers announce North America domination

Tuesday was a huge day for Donnie Wahlberg.

Entertainment

Here's what to do in Boston this weekend

THEATER The Wholehearted Thursday through April 27 Paramount Center 559 Washington St., Boston $25-$49, 617-824-8400 www.artsemerson.org This conceptually rich show from Stein | Holum Projects,…

Books

Becoming friends with New York City's oldest known…

"The Life and Times of Richard Musto" tells the story, through a poem, of the oldest known homeless man in New York City.

NHL

Bruins 2014 playoffs preview: Vegas odds say Stanley…

Bruins 2014 playoffs preview: Vegas odds say Stanley Cup will return to Boston

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers…

MLB Power Rankings: A's are baseball's best, Brewers and Braves right behind

MLB

Injury bug tearing holes in Red Sox

Red Sox fans will recall that last year the bullpen was decimated by injuries. From Franklin Morales to Andrew Miller, from Craig Breslow to Andrew…

MLB

MLB video highlights: White Sox beat Red Sox…

Red Sox fall on walk-off error to White Sox

Tech

5 surprising facts about Google Glass

Your sex life could get more interesting.

Wellbeing

Cognitive skills begin to drop at age 24

But the news isn't all that bad.

Career

How to get a job at a startup:…

We talked to Tarek Pertew, one of the co-founders behind Uncubed, about how to get your dream job at a startup.

Parenting

The 'smartest' summer camps across the country

See a list of summer camps across the country that emphasis learning, while still being fun.