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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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The  letter below was written by a pharmacist in the hope that Brittany Maynard will see it.  It is heartfelt, and also full of facts that she should know.

Dear Brittany Maynard:

I am publishing this in the hope that it will be seen by you since I do not know how to send you this message. That is my main purpose. In this message are facts you probably have never heard and you should weigh them before proceeding further.

From what I have read you have chosen, because of your medical condition, to move to Oregon, to end your life as envisioned by their law to use self-administered medications. Others have done this and I have not written them probably because I did not even know of their situation. I am writing you because you have chosen to make your life and death a public one and one that will surely influence the feelings and decisions of the others we may never know of who need to read this. I am writing you to ask you to reconsider how you are going about the ending of your life in such a public manner. I am hopeful that you will take the time to consider what I have to say to you and to those impressionable people you will influence because you are who you are. I also want you to c0nsider cold, objective medical facts from a pharmacist, facts often ignored by advocates of “Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS)”.

I am a retired pharmacist with many years of practice and with knowledge of the drugs that people use. None of these drugs were ever developed for the purpose of killing someone but as we all know they have long been used by people choosing to take their own life. This has happened in all states and not just in those which have made PAS legal. From this wrongful use of medications has flowed much suffering and heartbreak from the suicide and suicide attempts whether legally sanctioned or not. Continue Reading »


Brittany Maynard has released a new video explaining that she is probably postponing her suicide, which she had announced would take place on November 1 (http://www.cnn.com/2014/10/29/health/oregon-brittany-maynard-video/index.html).

True Dignity is very happy for her, and for all those who would have been adversely affected by reading about this death, self-inflicted with the approval and aid of the state of Oregon, at least two doctors as required by Oregon law, and most likely by the volunteers of  Compassion and Choices, who are seen in many films mixing the drugs, hovering over the patient as he or she gets ready to die, and even holding the cup as he or she drinks the poison.  George Eighmey, the Compassion and Choices lobbyist who was active in getting the Vermont assisted suicide law passed, had presided over 25 of these suicides the last time we looked.

Maynard really had to explain her postponement, precisely because of the breathless publicity that followed on her choices, first to star in a slickly (and no doubt expensively) produced Compassion and Choices fund-raising video and then to give interviews to a host of media outlets.

Now that this explanation has been given, however, she is free to step back, get out of the spotlight (which, despite the cliche, really must look to her the way the headlights of a car look to a deer just before it gets hit), and re-think the consequences of this decision for herself and for the many others whose autonomy is adversely impacted by media coverage such as we have seen over the past weeks and also by the very existence of the “option” of assisted suicide in a culture marked by  rampant elder abuse, abuse of people with disabilities, an obsession with cost-cutting,  a denigration by a physician and author of care-giving as “enslavement”, and the same doctor’s lamenting that  80 year old sons had to wait for their inheritance from a 110 year old father (http://www.wnyc.org/story/how-medicine-can-improve-life-and-death/ minute 3:50).

The media coverage, we say again, has violated the suicide reporting guidelines of the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/resource_media.pdf) and other public health organizations.  It should stop now.

True Dignity congratulates Maynard on her decision and earnestly hopes she will turn away from suicide altogether.  As many of our friends with disability could tell her, people can live good, happy and productive  lives without the autonomy she says she wants to commit suicide before losing.  We hope she will contact some of them (http://www.notdeadyet.org/contact-us ) and maybe also talk to Lauren Hill, a nineteen year old living with brain cancer and using her little remaining time to promote research for a cure rather than suicide.  Maybe the two could make a joint video to raise funds for a cure and for better care to enable people who are dying to live fully until the end.  What a productive thing that would be to do!

Finally, True Dignity urges Maynard to contact Ira Byock, the palliative care specialist who has been urging her not to commit suicide but to avail herself of the best in palliative care.  As we wrote a few days ago, she is wrong in asserting that he cannot speak about her case because he does not know how her dying will unfold.  In fact, having helped many people with brain cancer, die peacefully, he knows far more than she does about what brain cancer dying is like.  He knows far more about the process of dying well naturally than oncologists who are not specialists in palliative care know.  He knows far more about helping people die peacefully than do the Compassion and Choices people, whose specialty is helping them die prematurely, Dr. Byock can be reached at [email protected] or by calling Providence TrinityCare Hospice at 800-535-8446.


True Dignity Vermont cannot endorse candidates in next week’s elections, which will determine, at least in the short term, whether assisted suicide stays legal in  Vermont or is repealed as we hope.  We can, however, provide information, for your discernment.  Here are the names and party affiliations of those who voted for and against assisted suicide (or who stayed away) when Act 39 was passed in May 2013.  Many of these are the same names you will see on this year’s ballots.  You decide.  Your decision matters.

 Senate Vote (Passed, 17-13)

For (17): 13 Democrats, 1 Republican, 1 Democrat Progressive, 1 Progressive, 1 Progressive Democrat Working Families Party

Ashe (Chittenden, DP)

Ayer (Addison, D)

Baruth (Burlington,D)

Bray (Addison,D)

Collins (Franklin,D)

Fox (Chittenden,D)

French (Rutland,D)

Galbraith (Windham,D)

Hartwell (Bennington, D)

Lyons (Chittenden, D)

MacDonald (Orange, D)

McCormack (Windsor, D)

Pollina (Washington, P/D/W)

Rodgers (Essex-Orleans, D)

Snelling (Chittenden, R)

White (Windham, D)

Zuckerman (Chittenden, P)

Against (13): 6 Republicans, 7 Democrats

Benning (Caledonia, R),

Campbell (Windsor, D),

Cummings (Washington, D),

Doyle(Washington, R),

Flory (Rutland, R),

Kitchel (Caledonia, D),

Mazza (Chittenden-Grand Isle, D),

McAllister (Franklin, R),

Mullin (Rutland, R),

Nitka (Windsor, D),

Sears (Bennington, D),

Starr (Essex-Orleans, D),

Westman (Lamoille, R).


House Vote (Passed, 75-65)

For (75):  64 Democrats, 1 Republican, 1 Progressive, 4 Progressive Democrats, 2 Democrats/Working Families Party, 3 Independents

Bartholomew of Hartland (D)

Botzow of Pownal (D)

Burke of Brattleboro (P/D)

Buxton of Tunbridge (D)

Campion of Bennington (D)

Carr of Brandon (D)

Cheney of Norwich (D)

Clarkson of Woodstock (D)

Cole of Burlington (D)

Conquest of Newbury (D)

Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford (D)

Davis of Washington (P/D)

Deen of Westminster (D)

Ellis of Waterbury (D)

Emmons of Springfield  (D/W)

Fisher of Lincoln  (D)

Frank of Underhill (D)

French of Randolph (D)

Gallivan of Chittenden  (D)

Goodwin of Weston (I)

Grad of Moretown (D)

Greshin of Warren (I)

Haas of Rochester (P/D)

Head of South Burlington  (D)

Heath of Westford  (D)

Hooper of Montpelier (D)

Huntley of Cavendish (D)

Jerman of Essex (D)

Jewett of Ripton (D)

Johnson of South Hero (D)

Kitzmiller of Montpelier (D)

Klein of East Montpelier (D)

Komline of Dorset (R)

Krebs of South Hero (D)

Krowinski of Burlington (D)

Lenes of Shelburne (D)

Lippert of Hinesburg (D)

Macaig of Williston (D)

Manwaring of Wilmington (D)

Marek of Newfane (D)

Martin of Springfield (D)

Masland of Thetford (D)

McCormack of Burlington (D/W)

McCullough of Williston (D)

Michelsen of Hardwick (D)

Miller of Shaftsbury (D)

Mook of Bennington (D)

Mrowicki of Putney (D)

Nuovo of Middlebury (D)

O’Sullivan of Burlington (D)

Partridge of Windham (D)

Pearson of Burlington (P)

Peltz of Woodbury (D)

Pugh of South Burlington (D)

Rachelson of Burlington (D)

Ram of Burlington (D)

Sharpe of Bristol (D)

Spengler of Colchester (D)

Stevens of Waterbury (D)

Stevens of Shoreham (I)

Stuart of Brattleboro (D)

Sweaney of Windsor (D)

Taylor of Barre City (D)

Till of Jericho (D)

Toleno of Brattleboro (D)

Toll of Danville (D)

Townsend of South Burlington (D)

Vowinkel of Hartford (D)

Waite-Simpson of Essex (D)

Webb of Shelburne (D)

Weed of Enosburgh (P/D)

Wilson of Manchester (D)

Wizowaty of Burlington (D)

Woodward of Johnson (D)

Zagar of Barnard (D)

Against (65):  28 Republicans, 23 Democrats, 13 Republican/Democrats, 1 Independent

1.Ancel of Calais (D)

2. Batchelor of Derby (R)

3. Beyor of Highgate (R)

4. Bissonnette of Winooski (D)

5. Bouchard of Colchester (R)

6. Branagan of Georgia (R)

7. Brennan of Colchester (R)

8. Browning of Arlington (D)

9. Burditt of West Rutland (R)

10. Canfield of Fair Haven (R/D)

11. Christie of Hartford (D)

12. Condon of Colchester (D)

13. Connor of Fairfield (D)

14. Consejo of Sheldon (D)

15. Corcoran of Bennington (D)

16. Cross of Winooski (D)

17. Cupoli of Rutland City (R)

18. Dakin of Chester (D)

19. Devereux of Mount Holly (R)

20. Dickinson of St. Albans Town (R)

21. Donaghy of Poultney (R)

22. Donahue of Northfield (R)

23. Donovan of Burlington (D)

24. Evans of Essex (D)

25. Fagan of Rutland City (R)

26. Feltus of Lyndon (R)

27. Gage of Rutland City (R)

28. Hebert of Vernon (R)

29. Helm of Fair Haven (R/D)

30. Higley of Lowell (R)

31. Johnson of Canaan (R/D)

32. Juskiewicz of Cambridge (R)

33. Keenan of St. Albans City (D)

34. Kilmartin of Newport City (R/D)

35. Koch of Barre Town (R/D)

36. Kupersmith of South Burlington (D)

37. Larocque of Barnet (R)

38. Lawrence of Lyndon (R)

39. Malcolm of Pawlet (D)

40. Marcotte of Coventry (R/D)

41. Martin of Wolcott (D)

42. McCarthy of St. Albans City (D)

43. McFaun of Barre Town (R/D)

44. Moran of Wardsboro (D)

45. Morrissey of Bennington (R)

46. Myers of Essex (R)

47. O’Brien of Richmond (D)

48. Pearce of Richford (R/D)

49. Poirier of Barre City (I)

50. Potter of Clarendon (D)

51. Quimby of Concord (R/D)

52. Ralston of Middlebury (D)

53. Russell of Rutland City (D)

54. Savage of Swanton (R)

55. Scheuermann of Stowe (R)

56. Shaw of Pittsford (R/D)

57. Shaw of Derby (R/D)

58. Smith of New Haven (R/D)

59. South of St. Johnsbury (D)

60. Strong of Albany (R)

61. Terenzini of Rutland Town (R/D)

62. Turner of Milton (R)

63. Van Wyck of Ferrisburgh (R)

64. Winters of Williamstown (R)

65. Wright of Burlington (R)

Absent during Voting (9):   6 Democrats and 3 Republicans

Fay of St. Johnsbury (D)

Hubert of Milton (R)

Lanpher of Vergennes (D)

Lewis of Berlin (R)

Mitchell of Fairfax (R)

Townsend of Randolph (D)

Trieber of Rockingham (D)

Yantachka of Charlotte (D)

Young of Glover (D)

Election Day is upon us, and it should be obvious that the fate of assisted suicide in Vermont is entirely dependent on the choices we make that day. While True Dignity does not endorse candidates, we are providing, for your information and discernment, the list of legislators endorsed by Patient Choices, the organization that successfully lobbied for assisted suicide in Vermont and that will fight our efforts to repeal it. You can read the list online at www.patientchoices.org/endorsements.


Patient Choices at End of Life – Vermont endorses the following candidates in the 2014 general election:

For Governor:

  • Peter Shumlin – D

For Lieutenant Governor:

  • Dean Corren – P/D

For Attorney General:

  • William Sorrell – D

For Senate (look up your Senate district here):

  • Addison District – Claire Ayer – D
  • Addison District – Chris Bray – D
  • Bennington District – Brian Campion – D
  • Chittenden District – Tim Ashe – D/P
  • Chittenden District – Philip Baruth – D
  • Chittenden District – Ginny Lyons – D
  • Chittenden District – Michael Sirotkin – D
  • Chittenden District – Diane Snelling – R
  • Chittenden District – Dave Zuckerman – P/D
  • Essex-Orleans District – John Rodgers – D
  • Franklin District – Sara Kittell – D
  • Orange District – Mark MacDonald – D
  • Rutland District – Eldred French – D
  • Washington District – Anthony Pollina – P/D/W
  • Windham District – Jeanette White – D
  • Windsor District – Dick McCormack – D

For House (look up your House district here):

  • Addison 1 – BETTY A. NUOVO – D
  • Addison 2 – WILLEM JEWETT – D
  • Addison 4 – MICHAEL FISHER – D
  • Addison 4 – DAVE SHARPE – D
  • Bennington 3 – ALICE MILLER – D
  • Bennington-Rutland – PATTI KOMLINE – R
  • Caledonia-3 – MICHELLE FAY – D
  • Caledonia-Washington – CATHERINE “KITTY” TOLL – D
  • Chittenden 4-1 – MIKE YANTACHKA – D
  • Chittenden 4-2 – BILL LIPPERT – D
  • Chittenden 5-1 – KATE WEBB – D
  • Chittenden 5-2 – JOAN G. LENES – D
  • Chittenden 6-1 – JOANNA COLE – D
  • Chittenden 6-2 – JEAN O’SULLIVAN – D
  • Chittenden 6-3 – JILL KROWINKSI – D
  • Chittenden 6-3 – CURT MCCORMACK – D
  • Chittenden 6-4 – CHRISTOPHER A. PEARSON – P
  • Chittenden 6-4 – KESHA RAM – D
  • Chittenden 6-5 – MARY M. SULLIVAN – D
  • Chittenden 6-6 – BARBARA RACHELSON – D
  • Chittenden 7-2 – ANN PUGH – D
  • Chittenden 7-3 – HELEN HEAD – D
  • Chittenden 7-4 – MAIDA F. TOWNSEND – D
  • Chittenden 8-2 – TIM JERMAN – D
  • Chittenden 8-2 – LINDA WAITE-SIMPSON – D
  • Chittenden 8-3 – LIZ SUBIN – D
  • Chittenden 9-2 – KRISTY SPENGLER – D
  • Chittenden-2 – TERRY MACAIG – D
  • Chittenden-2 – JIM MCCULLOUGH – D
  • Chittenden-3 – BILL FRANK – D
  • Chittenden-3 – GEORGE TILL – D
  • Franklin 7 – CINDY WEED – D/P
  • Grand Isle-Chittenden – MITZI JOHNSON – D
  • Grand Isle-Chittenden – ROBERT C. KREBS – D
  • Lamoille 2 – MARK E. WOODWARD – D
  • Lamoille-Washington – AVRAM PATT – D
  • Orange 1 – SUSAN HATCH DAVIS – D/P
  • Orange-Caledonia – CHIP CONQUEST – D
  • Orange-Washington-Addison – PATSY FRENCH – D
  • Orleans-Caledonia – SAM YOUNG – D
  • Rutland 6 – STEPHEN A. CARR – D
  • Rutland-Windsor 1 – ANNE L. GALLIVAN – D
  • Washington 4 – MARY S. HOOPER – D
  • Washington 4 – WARREN F. KITZMILLER – D
  • Washington 5 – TONY KLEIN – D
  • Washington 7 – MAXINE GRAD – D
  • Washington 7 – ADAM GRESHIN – I
  • Washington-Chittenden – REBECCA ELLIS – D
  • Washington-Chittenden – TOM STEVENS – D
  • Windham 2-1 – VALERIE A. STUART – D
  • Windham 2-2 – MOLLIE S. BURKE – D/P
  • Windham 2-3 – TRISTAN TOLENO – D
  • Windham 3 – CAROLYN W. PARTRIDGE – D
  • Windham 3 – MATTHEW A. TRIEBER – D
  • Windham 4 – DAVID L. DEEN – D
  • Windham 4 – MIKE MROWICKI – D
  • Windham 6 – ANN MANWARING – D
  • Windham-Bennington-Windsor – OLIVER OLSEN – I
  • Windsor 1 – JOHN BARTHOLOMEW – D
  • Windsor 1 – DONNA SWEANEY – D
  • Windsor 2 – MARK HUNTLEY – D
  • Windsor 3-2 – ALICE M. EMMONS – D
  • Windsor 4-1 – TEO ZAGAR – D
  • Windsor 5 – ALISON H. CLARKSON – D
  • Windsor-Orange 1 – SARAH E. BUXTON – D
  • Windsor-Orange 2 – JIM MASLAND – D
  • Windsor-Rutland – SANDY HAAS – D/P

Here’s Wesley Smith, writing in The National Reviewhttp://www.nationalreview.com/human-exceptionalism

A few quotes, with which True Dignity heartily agrees:

The Brittany Maynard media explosion (my takes here and here) is an intense advocacy offensive–funded substantially by the culturally subversive George Soros through his support of Compassion and Choices–that is intended to do two things:

1. Drive assisted suicide into implementation by the power of hyper-emotion.

2. Silence those who want to discuss non-lethal approaches to caring for terminally ill patients in the larger context of the issues raised by Maynard’s illness.


Maynard–and more particularly, Compassion and Choices–are just trying to shut up voices they don’t want heard in the discussion by using her tragedy as a bludgeon.


Nobody is violating Maynard’s privacy. To the contrary: She and C & C are inserting her story into in every possible venue. That being so, people have every right to comment about the ISSUE presented–and that includes what hospice can do for people with brain cancer–as well as whether assisted suicide is appropriate or beneficent public policy.

People also have every right to opine about whether she is doing the right thing in her campaign and in deciding to take poison. She brought the issue up.

To put it bluntly, whether to legalize physician-prescribed suicide is about much more than Brittany Maynard’s individual circumstances, as tragic and emotionally compelling as that may be.

We do have one thing to add that Smith comes close to saying but does not actually say.  Brittany Maynard asks that Dr. Byock stop saying she can have a peaceful death without taking poison, because, she says, he does not know her or her individual circumstances, as if they were not the exact same circumstances faced by every person dying of glioblastoma multiforme.  In fact, Dr. Byock has seen many many people die with brain cancer, and he knows much more about how they die than Brittany and the ghoulish death pushers who are advising her to commit suicide.  Even her doctors are not dying specialists like Dr. Byock.  As Smith does say, he isn’t telling her a single thing except what hospice care can and does do for patients dying of brain cancer: good hospice care, that is, which is certainly not a guarantee except in the best centers, like the one headed by Dr. Byock.  That’s in  California, Brittany’s home state, from which she moved so she could commit suicide with assistance.  Ironic.



Lauren Hill 35546123001_3859486345001_lauren-hill01thumbLG

Here’s Lauren Hill, a nineteen year old girl with brain cancer, with only weeks to live, who is living her life fully until the end, refusing to be “a quitter”, showing us all the way to die with true dignity.


What a great example Lauren is, particularly to those tempted to despair of life because of physical or mental illness, disability or other problems.  These are some of the people who, like the many people who committed suicide after the publicity surrounding the death of Marilyn Monroe, are being put in mortal peril by the glorification of suicide that is currently playing out in the media, violating all the suicide prevention guidelines of the World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Why isn’t this girl on the cover of People Magazine this week?  Why is the magazine romanticizing suicide and those who promote and facilitate it, when there are wonderful  alternatives?  True Dignity is  so grateful to CBS for showcasing one of them.

Lauren Hill is also spending her last days helping The Cure Starts Now, an organization raising money to find a cure for pediatric brain cancer.  True Dignity hopes everyone will donate at https://curestartsnow.z2systems.com/np/clients/curestartsnow/campaign.jsp?campaign=199&.

We also salute Lauren’s college and coach, who demonstrate that they know that sports are for people, not the other way around, and the people of Lauren’s town, who are coming out in great numbers to watch her play.


Adam  J. MacLeod cuts to the chase in this Public Discourse piece:


He writes, “Brittany Maynard’s story is perhaps the most emotionally compelling case one could make for legalizing assisted suicide. As she notes, her circumstances are unique, and she is not arguing that physician-assisted suicide is right for all, or even for most. But why, she asks, should she not have a right to choose? This is a fraught question. It must be answered with care. But it must be answered.”

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