Today, Governor Peter Shumlin signed S. 108 into law, on the second anniversary of the implementation of Act 39, Vermont’s law legalizing physician-assisted suicide. That he did so was, sadly, no surprise.
In a news media release, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare (VAEH) had this to say:
S. 108 makes a pretense of keeping assisted suicide safeguards and protections from expiring when in reality any meaningful provisions were stripped out of the original legislation in a rush to passage in the final days of the 2013 legislative session.
The Vermont Department of Health has no information about how the law is actually working. Harry Chen testified, that beyond the number of prescriptions written, “any other information in terms of how many people took it, how many people were prescribed is really anecdotal and could certainly not be reported as true from my perspective.” (Testimony on S. 108 before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, 2/18/15.)
After relating that a resident of a local care home, who was not terminally-ill, had been approached about assisted suicide over a dozen times in one year, it became clear to Rep. Anne Donahue of Northfield that pro-assisted suicide organizations in the State are aggressively promoting that health care workers have a legal obligation to inform patients about assisted suicide, even if their patients do not inquire about it.
“It is a myth that doctors and other providers do not have to participate if they do not want to. And it is a myth that patients are not being pressured to consider using a prescription,” Rep. Anne Donahue said during floor debate on S. 108.
“It was irresponsible two years ago when lawmakers passed this dangerous and poorly crafted law,” said Edward Mahoney, President of the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, “and it is even more irresponsible for those same lawmakers to pretend that Vermonters are better protected by passage of S. 108.”
“As we predicted in 2013, the so-called “choice to die” has turned into “pressure to die,” Mahoney said. “And, in the concept of voluntary participation on the part of patients and health care providers has fallen by the wayside.”
True Dignity will continue to maintain the abuse hotline that we established in 2013 for Vermonters who wish to report situations of abuse and coercion. The number to call is 1-855-STP-KILL (1-855-787-5455 )