The House and Senate bills to legalize assisted suicide are not moving. Senator Richard Sears (D. Bennington), who opposes legalization, is the chair of the Judiciary Committee, to which the Senate bill was referred last year. He has refused pressure to hold hearings on the bill and has so far successfully fought off efforts to move the bill to another committee. He deserves all our thanks. So does the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, John Campbell (D. Windsor), who has also used his influence to oppose the bill.
Supporters of assisted suicide like Governor Peter Shumlin and House Speaker Shap Smith have told the press that, even if the bill were brought to a vote, the votes are simply not there in the Senate to pass it.
With that in mind, and perhaps remembering the big defeat a similar bill suffered when it was brought to the House floor in 2007, Ann Pugh, Chair of the House Human Services Committee, has so far taken no initiative to move the bill in the House.
So far is the operative word here. Proponents of the bill continue their efforts to have it considered. We need to be watchful for an attempt to slip assisted suicide language into other legislation.
It is far too early to celebrate in Vermont. If the bill dies in this legislature, we can be sure the well-funded effort to bring assisted suicide to our state will continue in the next, especially if it becomes legal in Massachusetts.
Still, so far, so good. We thank the legislators who have stood firm against this dangerous legislation and all the Vermont citizens who have supported them.