Tuesday, July 19, 2011

" [T]he vast majority wore round yellow stickers reading 'I oppose physician-assisted suicide.'"

Death with dignity forum emotional

Bennington Banner, Zeke Wright
Posted: 03/04/2011 10:48:11 PM EST

Friday March 4, 2011

MANCHESTER -- The Mark Skinner Library was the site of an emotionally charged but largely civil conversation Thursday evening on Vermont's Death with Dignity bill, or H.274, introduced in the House on Feb. 17.

The basement room was filled to capacity with more than 100 individuals who, by show of hands, had nearly all made up their minds beforehand. And their position was not to be left unstated, as the vast majority wore round yellow stickers reading "I oppose physician-assisted suicide," handed out beforehand as the crowd settled in.

The event was sponsored by Patient Choices Vermont and featured David Babbott, a board member of that group in support of H.274, and George Eighmey, who as an Oregon state legislator in 1997 supported the successful adoption of similar legislation in his state -- the first in the nation.

"It's not our goal that they use the law," said Eighmey, "Our goal is to have the full range of options for this individual who is facing the end of life."

Vermont's H.274 would allow terminally ill patients with a prognosis of less than six months to live the option of a lethal prescription, obtained from their physician. Safeguards are built in to restrict eligibility and ensure willingness and mental competence, and include a second consulting physician, palliative care consultations, three formal requests (the last in writing), and a 15-day waiting period between requests.

To read the rest of the article, go to Archives here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice

The original version of this article was published in The Vermont Bar Journal, Winter 2011.  

Bill Peace ("Bad Cripple") Center
By Margaret K. Dore, Esq.

Elders and people with disabilities
are, as a group, at a high risk for
violence, abuse, and exploitation.
- Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services [1]


In 2009, a legislative proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Vermont was introduced, but not brought to a vote.[2] The proposal was modeled on Oregon’s assisted suicide act.[3] Oregon is one of just two states where assisted suicide is legal. In Vermont, proponents have indicated that they will be backing a similar proposal in the 2011 legislative session.[4]

Physician-Assisted Suicide

The American Medical Association (AMA) defines physician-assisted suicide as follows: "Physician-assisted suicide occurs when a physician facilitates a patient’s death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act (e.g., the physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide)."[5]

The AMA rejects assisted suicide.[6] Assisted suicide is also opposed by disability rights groups such as the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and Not Dead Yet.[7]