Well the people who got the dangerous Vermont assisted suicide law through the legislature in 2013 have now decided it needs to be made “safer”, meaning more like the Oregon and Washington laws. An AP article to which we won’t link has appeared in several newspapers this morning.
This time we at True Dignity agree with the hawkers of assisted suicide. The Vermont law, especially after its nominal protections expire in 2016, is unsafe.
Where we disagree is on the possibility of making it safe. The Oregon law is not safe, for all the reasons we have listed over the years, first among them the fact that it requires no witnesses at the time of death, making it impossible to know when a very sick person who got the prescription only for “peace of mind” is pressured, coerced, or even forced to take a lethal dose of barbiturates. Without that requirement, it is impossible to know what happened at any bedside, even Brittany Maynard’s. Furthermore, because of the extreme subtlety of the pressures that can cause a person to commit suicide, such laws cannot be made “safe”, even by requiring witnesses, even by surrounding the implementation of assisted suicide with so many rules and so much bureaucracy that the proponents would say the purpose of creating a so-called “beautiful”, so-called “peaceful” death had been sabotaged. The very ones who want the inadequate Oregon style regulations put back into the Vt law are opposed to adding protections like a witness requirement that would attempt to protect patients after they had acquired the prescription. We can be sure that some VT legislators, like Peter Galbraith, one of the two senators, both now retired, whose refusal to vote for an Oregon style bill gave us the current one that even proponents now say they need to make “safer”, would not vote for a bill with stronger protections than Oregon’s. Remember, the Oregon style bill was voted down in the Senate. Only a last minute to capitulation to Senators Galbraith and Hartwell, who wanted a bill essentially without any regulations, resulted in its passage.
We are, however, grateful to pro-assisted suicide Senator Claire Ayer for bringing this issue back to the legislature, because this “revisit” is an opportunity to repeal the whole thing, leaving Vermonters just as free to commit suicide as they were before its passage while removing the threats legalization presents to people made vulnerable by disability, age, and sickness.
A new movement for repeal is underway, with a Facebook page that we urge you to like. Get your friends to do so too.
We can’t link to it, because of some malfunction of our program, but just search for Repeal Act 39 on Facebook.
Edit: Here’s the link https://www.facebook.com/RepealAct39