Below, in italics, is the excellent testimony Vermonter Kathleen Grange gave at the public hearing before the House Human Services and Judiciary Committees last week. Based on what she heard with her own ears, she told the committees, “The slippery slope is here!” There was another witness, a medical doctor, who planned to tell the committees that he had heard the same thing but got cut off before he managed to say it. A man who spoke in favor of the bill, furthermore, complained about it because he said it excludes those suffering from dementia (incompetent) and ALS (unable to self administer). We know that having a terminal illness is not necessary for people to be legally helped to commit suicide or euthanized in Europe, and we have just found a law journal article from Oregon written in the year 2012 saying it is time to expand assisted suicide to make people with dementia and with chronic rather than terminal illnesses eligible for assistance in suicide (http://law.uoregon.edu/org/olr/volumes/91/2/docs/lewis.pdf). Kathy is also points out that expansion from assisted suicide to euthanasia will occur; read the testimony for her surprising, real life reason. Kathy is right. If we sit by while assisted suicide is made legal here, this will be only “the first step”.
I am Kathleen Grange from Graniteville, and I oppose Oregon-style doctor-prescribed suicide legislation on many levels because it has never been safe nor can it ever be made safe.
Officials and paid spokesmen from Oregon, paid lobbyists, and paid professionals from organizations such as Compassion & Choices are flocking once again to our state to tell us that we need to pass bad public health policy. Instead of calling this legislation legalized murder, it is wrapped in words such as choice, death with dignity, death with compassion, a peaceful death. And doctors must falsify the official death certificate.
There is a great disconnect between what is happening in our state and what is happening in the Legislature.
This year alone much testimony was given on the high suicide rate in Vermont. Our State Department of Health has a whole section on suicide that states suicide (taking one’s own life) is a serious public health problem that devastates individuals, families and communities. It is one of the leading causes of death among Americans. Legislative Solution…pass state mandated suicide legislation.
This year we again heard about the back log of adult abuse complaints. Legislative Solution….pass state mandated suicide legislation.
Our state has a new health care coverage program that no one knows how to pay for. Legislative Solution…pass a state mandated suicide program that would certainly cut costs.
This year our legislators heard testimony on the drug abuse problem in Vermont. YET…here we debate doctor-prescribed suicide legislation which would allow doctors to legally prescribe a lethal dose of mediation for the sole purpose of killing a person.The names of famous people who died of overdoses of these meds: Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, Judy Garland, and 673 people in the state of Oregon!
The shelf life of the barbiturates is 12-18 months,and what happens to the medication that is not ingested? Research on the barbiturates used, namely Secobarbital and Pentobarbital, opens up many areas of concern. These medications are used by some states for Capital Punishment and also to euthanize animals, YET…doctor-prescribed suicide legislation would allow these meds to go out on the street with no supervision or follow-up. A friend asked a vet if he would write a prescription for her old dog Pete, so she could self-administer the medication. Emphatically the vet said “NO….too many things can go wrong!” YET….some feel it is OK and even a civil right to prescribed a lethal dose of this same medication for humans!
Last year VT Department of Health Commissioner Chen testified that doctor-prescribed suicide was “a top priority” for the governor, who views it as a “civil rights issue.” Just recently State Attorney General Sorrell also said this legislation is a civil right. So if it’s a civil right for someone with a diagnosis of 6 months to live, why isn’t it a civil right for everyone? Several years ago I attended a Death with Dignity Vermont presentation in Barre facilitated by a family physician who stated numerous times that if Vermont passes a bill it will be THE FIRST STEP and may not meet the needs of everyone right away, but it is THE FIRST STEP. The slippery slope is here!
Proponents of this legislation say having this prescription for a lethal dose of medication would bring them comfort. Is this the best Vermont ahs to offer her citizens? I hope not.