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
National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

NHL

Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.