Vermont Alliance for Ethical Health Care is an organization of Vermont health care professionals and ethicists created to advocate for excellent end of life care and against the legalization of physician assisted suicide. The link to its website is http://www.vaeh.org/. VAEH has arrived at its position against assisted suicide through its members’ experiences working with dying people.
VAEH is ” a not-for-profit, tax-exempt organization incorporated in Vermont in March 2003″. Unlike True Dignity Vermont, it accepts donations and uses them to lobby against assisted suicide in the legislature. Donations (not tax deductible) are urgently needed at this time and may be sent to the following address:
Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare
P.O. Box 2145
South Burlington, VT 05407-2145
Today VAEH sent a letter to its members laying out its current position in the battle against assisted suicide in Vermont. Here it is, in italics below:
Thank you for your ongoing support in our efforts to defeat Physician Assisted Suicide legislation in the State of Vermont. I want to bring you up to date on what has transpired and what we can expect in the next several weeks.
Last week the Vermont Senate approved the Galbraith/Cummings amendment which effectively ended (at least in the Senate) the original physician assisted suicide bill (S.77) introduced by the Senate Health and Welfare Committee. The original bill was replaced entirely by a one page piece of legislation that accepts current practice in which a physician may prescribe pain medication in order to relieve physical symptoms in terminally ill patients. The bill also provides immunity for physicians if a patient self-administers a sufficient number of pills to end his/her life. The bill also provides immunity for family members who may be present and witness this act.
The Alliance supported those senators who voted for this bill because if the original S.77 went up for a vote without any of the amendments, it would have passed. While this bill is problematic, our main message is that there should be no legislation – a position that the Vermont Medical Society has continued to take. The government should not get between a physician and her/his patient at the time of terminal illness. Additionally, we will continue to vigorously oppose any legislation that permits physician assisted suicide.
For the moment, we are waiting see what actually happens in the House. Our belief is that the House Human Services Committee will take up the bill from the Senate. This Committee will most likely add the language of the original physician assisted suicide bill to what the Senate sent over; or the House may remove the new language from the Senate bill and send an Oregon style bill back to the Senate. In either case it would move to a conference committee composed of members of the House and Senate.
In the event, we will be back to testify and continue the fight. We will try to line up some key members of the House as well as encourage people to contact their own representatives when the time comes.
Our lobbyists have been outstanding in helping us defeat assisted suicide legislation. They will carry the fight to the House and advise us in every step.
If you have not made a contribution to the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, I ask you to consider a donation NOW. The next weeks are crucial for us.