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
Local

Girl, 10, dies after being pulled from water…

A 10-year-old girl died after being pulled from the waters off Coney Island Beach in Brooklyn on Tuesday night, police said.

News

NY judge throws out lawsuit by Empire State…

A New York state judge has thrown out a lawsuit in which longtime investors in the Empire State Building claimed they were shortchanged out of hundreds of millions of dollars…

Local

Mysterious white flags appear over Brooklyn Bridge

Two white flags mysteriously appeared over the towers of the Brooklyn Bridge yesterday in place of the American flags that are a traditional fixture.

National

Judge sets January start for murder trial of…

By Elizabeth BarberBOSTON (Reuters) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez will be tried in January for the murder of semi-professional football player Odin…

Arts

Don't miss 'Charles James: Beyond Fashion' at the…

Have you been meaning to see "Charles James: Beyond Fashion"? There are only two weeks left to get to the Met and catch this amazing American fashion designer's collection.

Television

Zac Posen talks 'Project Runway' and what it…

We talked to Zac Posen, judge and designer extraordinaire, about the new season of "Project Runway" and what keeps him coming back after three seasons.

Television

'Face Off' contestant David 'DOC' O'Connell sounds off…

David "DOC" O'Connell tells us about getting cast on Season 7 of Syfy's "Face Off," premiering tonight at 9.

Arts

PHOTO: Wildlife photographer Marc Mol captures amazing aerial…

This aerial image was taken by photographer Marc Mol who spotted the animals during an air safari in Zambia.

NFL

David Tyree hiring has gay rights advocates angry

Former Giants Super Bowl hero David Tyree will re-join the franchise as its new director of player development.

NFL

Ben McAdoo's new offense has Giants excited to…

Even Tom Coughlin feels he has a lot to learn about offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s new offense, which makes the veteran coach very excited.

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead…

MLB Power Rankings: A's, Angels, Dodgers, Brewers lead pack

NFL

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will…

2014 NFL season betting odds: Which team will win Super Bowl?

Tech

Learn Braille with these gloves

U.S. scientists have designed high-tech gloves to help users understand Braille in a matter of minutes.

Home

5 New Ikea products that will change your…

We round-up the latest must-have products.

Food

Recipe: Wolfgang Puck's Buttermilk French Toast

We recently spent some time chatting with restauranteur/celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck at his Wolfgang Puck American Grille in the Borgata in Atlantic City. Puck wanted…

Style

Go retro with your sneakers

The best of wacky new sneakers.