Article published Mar 5, 2011
Respect doctors’ stance on law
I find it difficult to understand how the Vermont Legislature has the audacity to again consider legislation that intends to have doctors prescribe lethal amounts of drugs. Do they not remember that the Vermont Medical Society was very clear in its position during the last attempt at making this law? The medical society, after much discussion and polling of its membership, declared, “there should be no laws for or against physician-assisted suicide due to a concern that such laws could hinder the provision of high-quality end-of-life care.” It seems incongruous to be creating such controversial legislation when the crucial participants — physicians — as a whole want nothing to do with it and think it is ultimately going to be harmful. Proponents argue that really very few people will want to take advantage of the law, but doctors are fearful it will cause unintended harm to many others in multiple ways.
It is also quite alarming to simultaneously have two bills in the Legislature, one looking for ways to curb spending on health care while the other gives options to the terminally ill to end their lives prematurely. In his letter of Jan. 27, David Grundy aptly pointed out that a large amount of money is spent on patients at the end of their lives and that “we will need to decide if we should spend that kind of money on a person who (is) about to die, or whether the funds could be better directed to those who have a longer life expectancy.” Although its supporters assure us that the purpose of H.274 is not to save money on health care, human nature dictates that finances will inevitably influence life and death choices.
The bill has been introduced in the House. Please contact your legislators immediately.
Dr. Dale Stafford