There was good and bad news in Governor Peter Shumlin’s answers to reporters’ questions at his August 11 press conference, as reported by Angela Chagman on the website of True North Reports (http://truenorthreports.com/shumlin-no-comment-on-steve-kimbells-remark-that-physician-assisted-suicide-can-help-curb-healthcare-costs). Chagman’s report includes a video, from which many of the quotes in this post were taken.
The good news
Asked whether he thought the assisted suicide bill currently before the legislature would pass in the next session, the governor replied, “I don’t know. The votes aren’t there in the Senate right now.”
The bad news
The governor is personally lobbying Senators to get the votes needed to legalize assisted suicide. (http://vtdigger.org/2011/05/17/galloway-interviews-filmmaker-peter-d-richardson/, see video).
The national and international pro-assisted suicide lobby is launching simultaneous campaigns in multiple places, worldwide. It is organizing a well-funded effort to put pressure on our legislators in Vermont.
Asked about the recent assertion by Steve Kimbell, ,Commissioner of the VT Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities and health Care Administration, the man who will oversee the development of the single payer health care plan enacted by the legislature in the 2011 session, that legalizing assisted suicide would help cut the state’s health care costs (http://www.addisonindependent.com/201107editorial-political-pragmatism-key-vts-health-care-reform), Shumlin refused to comment on Kimbell, while insisting that he himself does not consider assisted suicide a matter of cost-cutting.
True Dignity Vermont believes that Kimbell, either purposely or by mistake, revealed a dangerous underlying motive of the push to legalize assisted suicide; it is so much cheaper than care. While dissociating himself from Kimbell’s cost-cutting remarks, Shumlin has not insisted that Kimbell renounce them nor called for his resignation. If he truly disagrees with Kimbell, why has he left this man in charge of implementing a health care plan Vermonters will have no choice to decline?
We would also like to ask Governor Shumlin how any real choice can co-exist with legal assisted suicide and a universal state-funded health care plan focused on cutting costs. Maybe giving this question a little thought would convince him that it cannot. Legal assisted suicide is inherently destructive of choice, even in good times, and very obviously in bad economic times like these.
Shumlin’s answers at the news conference raise too many other questions to list. We will ask some of them in future postings.
In the meantime, the governor’s contact information is available at http://governor.vermont.gov/contact-us. We should tell him Vermonters don’t want assisted suicide in our state.