On August 28, 2013, Vermont Public Radio reported that there has been a settlement in the lawsuit brought by Vermont Legal Aid against the state over its inadequate response times to reports of adult abuse (http://digital.vpr.net/post/advocates-settle-state-over-adult-abuse-cases). The settlement was based on the fact that the state has eliminated the long line of reported abuse cases waiting for response and investigation.
A spokesperson for Vermont Legal Aid told VPR that it remains concerned about the state’s vulnerable adults. “Problems continued in that credible allegations of abuse, neglect and exploitation were not accepted for investigation. I think in their last report, two thirds of the reports of abuse that came in, APS (Adult Protective Services) did not accept for investigation,” the spokesperson told the station.
It is a tragedy that assisted suicide, an obvious tool for abusers, is now legal in Vermont. Even if we make the naive assumption that assistance in suicide will be limited to people with terminal illnesses, we have to recognize that 1) all terminally ill people become disabled at some point in the progression of their illness. 2) many disabilities become “terminal” if treatment and care are withdrawn 3)all people, disabled or not, will have terminal conditions at some point 4) many elderly people experience some form of disability. People with disabilities are always vulnerable. When assisted suicide is legal, they become much more vulnerable.
Thanks to Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and to Paul Russell of Hope International for the linked article about a Massachusetts report on the abuse of people with disabilities, with commentary on the dangers of adding legal assisted suicide and euthanasia to an already terrible situation (http://alexschadenberg.blogspot.com/2013/09/abuse-of-people-with-disabilities.html).