Saturday, April 14, 2012

Vermont - Senate Votes Down Latest Attempt at Assisted Suicide Passage

On Thursday, April 12, the Vermont Senate engaged in a two-hour debate over a provision to legalize assisted suicide that was attached to a bill banning those under 18 from using tanning salons.  After the debate, the Senate voted against allowing the rider to the tanning bill by a vote of 18 to 11.

Here's some an excerpt from the Burlington Free Press:

(The 'Miller' referred to below is Sen. Hinda Miller, who initiated the move to attach the assisted suicide rider to the tanning bill)
So the discussion began.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Sears, D-Bennington, peppered Miller with questions about the legislation, including the impact on a doctor’s role and on suicide rates.

Miller didn’t have any answers. “I do not understand the question,” she said at one point.

“How can we move forward with this bill?” Sears responded.

Senators broke for a recess as Miller looked for help. Sears told colleagues, “When you’re unprepared for the debate you shouldn’t cry foul.”

Miller appealed to Sen. Jeanette White, D-Windham. “Can I yield to you?” she asked, meaning White would answer Sears’ questions on the floor.

“Why me?” White answered.

As they returned to the formal session, Sears said he was done with his interrogation. “The point I wanted to make with some of the questions I asked of the senator is merely that there was no testimony,” he said.

One by one, senators took the floor to make their case either for or against the amendment.
As noted at the top, after all arguments were made, the move to allow the amendment/rider stand failed.

One of the most heartening things to read was the editorial in the same edition of the Burlington Free Press:
The legislation to allow assisted suicide, and the practice itself — even with all its safeguards — still raises concerns, concerns grave enough to warrant keeping the bill from becoming law in this state.

The law fundamentally changes the relationship between the medical practitioner and patient. There is an essential difference between a doctor withholding extraordinary measures to prolong life of someone who is near death and becoming an active participant in hastening the end.

There is also the question of oversight. Much meaningful information about assisted suicide would be withheld from the public in the name of privacy. Yet without sufficient information, there is no true public oversight. In its place, we would be asked to take the word of government officials that all is well.

In a matter of life and death, the people are asked to put their blind faith in the same government that has proven itself so inept in safeguarding something far less consequential — money — from embezzlement by public employees.
It's nice to read something from an editorial board that indicates they've read the concerns about 'safeguards' and 'oversight' - and taken them seriously.

For more information please check out True Dignity Vermont. --Stephen Drake


  1. Some people will understand this immediately. Adding amendments unrelated to the original bill could be compared to the quote from the movie Galaxy Quest where Tim Allen (Captain) tells the enemy is "What you fail to realize is that this ship is towing mines!:

  2. It is heartening to see some media support! It is hoped that it happens more often.

  3. P.S. Lin's comment is perfect and wonderful.