The New Hampshire House defeated that state’s assisted suicide bill today by a vote of 219-66 (http://gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/Roll_Calls/billstatus_billrollcalls.aspx?lsr=2528&sy=2014&lb=H&sortoption=&txtsessionyear=2014&q=1).
Nancy Elliot of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, a former New Hampshire legislator, said, “It went down in flames. This was the last of three bills and the most direct one promoting Assisted Suicide. We are safe from Assisted Suicide in New Hampshire for this session.”
True Dignity congratulates our neighboring state for its good sense. We wonder why Vermont legislators are not embarrassed at having enacted legislation that has since been rejected in two states, Maine and New Hampshire, and has been avoided by a legislative maneuver in the Canadian province of Quebec.
Legalization of assisted suicide always destroys freedom of choice, but the Vermont law is worse than the terrible laws of Oregon and Washington and worse than the bills rejected in Maine and New Hampshire. It contains almost no safeguards and no reporting requirements after the prescription is written. Because a doctor must report to the state when he or she writes a prescription, we know that two prescriptions have been written in Vermont. The law requires no reporting about what happens to the drugs after the prescription is written. One patient’s sister wrote that he died before taking the drugs, and the Burlington Free Press wrote that the other patient also died without taking them. Did the patients or their representatives pick them up? If so, were they disposed of safely?
Vermont is experiencing a heroin epidemic, and every article about it (two in the NY Times over the past couple of weeks) says it began with abuse of prescription drugs. Our legislators, however, saw no need to provide for the safe disposal of lethal doses of barbiturates, known as “downers” in the illegal drug trade.
Repeal of the Vermont law is the way to go, but the rules of the legislature prevent that from being considered until the next biennium, which begins in January, 2015. In the meantime, we need to tell our legislators to halt the implementation of this terrible piece of legislation. Contact information is available at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/alpha.cfm?Body=H&Session=2014 and http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/alpha.cfm?Body=S&Session=2014.