This is an urgent alert to all Vermonters. Please contact your senators immediately to express your opposition to legalizing assisted suicide and to ask them to work and vote against it. You can find contact information on the Vermont Legislature’s website. For an alphabetical listing, go to http://www.leg.state.vt.us/SenateMain.cfm . If you aren’t sure who your senator is, they are listed by county at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/lms/legdir/districts.asp?Body=S. Calls and emails are both good.
In the last few hours we have learned that an assisted suicide bill will be referred to two committees, Health and Welfare and Judiciary. This bill does not yet have a number, but it is coming. As most of you know, Governor Shumlin supports assisted suicide and will do everything in his power to get the bill passed. The people of Vermont, and only the people of Vermont, can stop that from happening in our beloved state.
The Health and Welfare Committee is composed entirely of senators who were co-sponsors of last year’s bill. There will be a Health and Welfare Committee “read-through” of the bill on January 29. The Health and Welfare Committee is expected to take testimony in the days following the read-through.
The Judiciary Committee chair is still Richard Sears of Bennington County, who is firmly opposed to legalizing assisted suicide in Vermont. Senator Alice Nitka of Windsor also firmly opposes assisted suicide. Senator Jeanette White of Putney is an ardent supporter who introduced last year’s bill. The other members are new to the committee. According to the political issues website Vote Smart, Senator Joe Benning of Caledonia has stated that he will vote against assisted suicide because he promised his mother on her deathbed that he would do so. The other member is Senator Tim Ashe of Chittendon, a co-sponsor of last year’s bill.
Tell your senators that a poll released last year showing most Vermonters support assisted suicide means nothing. . Tell the senators a similar poll last fall showed over 60% of the people in Massachusetts supported legalization of assisted suicide there. Those numbers lied, or the numbers changed when people were educated to the ways in which assisted suicide threatens the elderly, people with disabilities, our youth, people with depression, and indeed every person capable of feeling pressure not to burden family, insurance companies or the state with the time, emotional, and financial costs of good palliative care for the dying. When the question was put to a vote in November, legalization was defeated. Tell the senators Vermonters want excellent palliative care, not assisted suicide.