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True Dignity Vermont is a grassroots, independent, citizen-led initiative in opposition to assisted suicide in Vermont. Vermonters deserve true dignity and compassion at the end of life, not the abandonment of assisted suicide. Killing is not compassion, and True Dignity Vermont will work to ensure our end-of-life choices respect the dignity of all Vermont citizens.
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A New Hampshire House member said the now-defeated assisted suicide bill “would provide ‘a new deadly avenue for predators and could lead to a convenient termination a life…Other people would eventually be deciding whether you should live or not.’”
Tell Vermont legislators you care that they voted a similar bill into law in our state and that your concern will affect your vote this fall. Tell them to support a moratorium on implementation now.
Here’s a link to the Union Leader article about the vote: http://www.unionleader.com/article/20140306/NEWS0621/140309414.
The New Hampshire House defeated that state’s assisted suicide bill today by a vote of 219-66 (http://gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/Roll_Calls/billstatus_billrollcalls.aspx?lsr=2528&sy=2014&lb=H&sortoption=&txtsessionyear=2014&q=1).
Nancy Elliot of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, a former New Hampshire legislator, said, “It went down in flames. This was the last of three bills and the most direct one promoting Assisted Suicide. We are safe from Assisted Suicide in New Hampshire for this session.”
True Dignity congratulates our neighboring state for its good sense. We wonder why Vermont legislators are not embarrassed at having enacted legislation that has since been rejected in two states, Maine and New Hampshire, and has been avoided by a legislative maneuver in the Canadian province of Quebec.
Legalization of assisted suicide always destroys freedom of choice, but the Vermont law is worse than the terrible laws of Oregon and Washington and worse than the bills rejected in Maine and New Hampshire. It contains almost no safeguards and no reporting requirements after the prescription is written. Because a doctor must report to the state when he or she writes a prescription, we know that two prescriptions have been written in Vermont. The law requires no reporting about what happens to the drugs after the prescription is written. One patient’s sister wrote that he died before taking the drugs, and the Burlington Free Press wrote that the other patient also died without taking them. Did the patients or their representatives pick them up? If so, were they disposed of safely?
Vermont is experiencing a heroin epidemic, and every article about it (two in the NY Times over the past couple of weeks) says it began with abuse of prescription drugs. Our legislators, however, saw no need to provide for the safe disposal of lethal doses of barbiturates, known as “downers” in the illegal drug trade.
Repeal of the Vermont law is the way to go, but the rules of the legislature prevent that from being considered until the next biennium, which begins in January, 2015. In the meantime, we need to tell our legislators to halt the implementation of this terrible piece of legislation. Contact information is available at http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/alpha.cfm?Body=H&Session=2014 and http://www.leg.state.vt.us/legdir/alpha.cfm?Body=S&Session=2014.
A Vermont legislator who had voted against assisted suicide in 2007 but for it in 2013 explained that she changed her mind after constituents indicated on a questionnaire she circulated at town meeting that they wanted assisted suicide.
Another legislator, a leader in the winning fight against the bill in 2007 and the losing one in 2013, told us she heard from far fewer opponents in 2013 than in 2007.
We MUST make our voices heard to stop the implementation of this law. It is even worse than the bad laws in Oregon and Washington. Please speak to your senators and representatives at town meeting or by phone or email while they are at home.
Here, from Vermont Alliance for Ethical Health Care, is a list of reasons why the law is so bad. You can print it out and give it to your legislators or use it for talking points.
• Does NOT require a patient to have “capacity”
• Does NOT require that a patient be “capable” at the time of ingestion
• Does NOT require a patient to self-administer the lethal dose
• Does NOT provide immunity for nurses, pharmacists and others involved
• Does NOT provide immunity for health care facilities
• Does NOT require State oversight
• Does NOT require collection of data
• Does NOT track prescriptions
• Does NOT require annual reports
• Does NOT have rules for safe disposal of lethal drugs
• Does NOT have provisions to investigate allegations of abuse
• Does NOT require a disinterested witness be present at time of ingestion to verify that the patient is not under duress
• Does NOT require a physician or health care professional to be present
• Does NOT require that family be notified
• Does NOT protect physicians from a duty to inform terminally ill patients of lethal dose option even if premature, does not fit the standard of care, clinically inappropriate or violates a physician’s ethics
• Does NOT require that a patient be a Vermont resident
• Does NOT allow the physician prescribing the lethal drug to contact the patient’s primary physician unless the patient gives consent.
Massachusetts is one of several states where the proponents of assisted suicide are trying for legalization again. Two years ago the voters there defeated it in a referendum, so now they are circumventing the voters by going directly to the legislature, as they did in Vermont.
In the article, disability rights advocate John Kelly does his usual brilliant job of stating the multiple ways in which legal assisted suicide threatens the very lives of people with disabilities and the elderly.
Our case would be strengthened by some positive comments. Also our True Dignity readers in Vermont can use his remarks as points to bring up when you contact your legislators in support of a moratorium on implementation of our law.
Here is a link to the Burlington Free press article on the moratorium. http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014302270036.
We learn from it that “No one has apparently yet used a lethal dose to end life since the law took effect last May. The Health Department has received two reports from doctors that prescriptions were written for a lethal dose following the law. That is the only reporting the law requires. Advocates for the law say they have heard that in both cases the patients died before the medication was taken.”
It’s good to know the Burlington Free Press has taken note of the lack of reporting requirements in the bill. For the first two years, one of which will be over in May, 2014, we will at least know the number of prescriptions written. After that, we will know absolutely nothing. There will not even be a pretense of concern for patient protection.
Here is a link to the Bennington Banner article about the reactions of two lawmakers to yesterday’s press conference in which the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Health Care, a group of concerned people from the medical profession, and Vermont Coalition for Disability Rights called for a moratorium on implementation of the assisted suicide law.
It’s heartening to know that John Campbell’s position is that he wants not just a moratorium but repeal of the law. True Dignity stands with him.