So after a very chaotic day during which 3 recesses were called and after a day that was almost identical to yesterday’s debate, the Cummings bill was passed by the senate 22-8.
The Rodgers amendment was a last ditch effort to revive the former language, and was the cause of great debate and deliberation during recesses. The Rodgers supporters even offered to incorporate the language of the Cummings bill, but as one senator said the Oregon model is not what Vermonters want, what Vermonters want is to know that their family would not be liable if they chose suicide; what Vermonters want is the state out of the death business. The Rodgers amendment was defeated by a 16-15 vote with Lt. Governor Phil Scott offering the deciding vote.
Though the Cummings Amendment is not a perfect bill, and we would rather have a prohibition on Assisted Suicide, it is definitely a bill that has less baggage than the Oregon model, and provides a firebreak against the Oregon Model.
We are still assessing the moral issues involved in the Cummings Amendment and the board is in discussions on our full stance, but we do think this bill has no apparent severe moral problems.
A summary of the bill (as it came out of Judiciary):
Title: Immunity for terminally Ill patients use of prescription medication.
(1) Bona fide health care relationship required: full assessment of patient’s history, condition and personal physical exam.
(2) Health care professional is an MD or an DO (doctor of osteopathy) no one else for this bill.
(3) Terminal condition expected to result in death in 6 months.
(B) a health care professional with a bona fide relationship with a terminal patient “who prescribes medication to
that patient for the relief of symptoms associated with or caused by the terminal condition shall not be subject to criminal or civil liability or professional disciplinary action if the patient self-administers more than a prescribed dosage of the medication and dies as a result.”
(C) A person present at the suicide of a patient is not criminally or civilly liable “solely for being present when a patient self-administers a lethal dose of a medication that has been prescribed by a” doctor.
This bill effectively codifies the status quo in Vermont, and does not create a machinery in the government overseeing the death of citizens.