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]

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

2011 Bill Analysis

2011 Bill Analysis
(both bills died)
By Margaret Dore, Esq.

In 2011, identical bills were proposed to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Vermont.  On February 17, 2011, the House version, H.274, was read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Human Services.  On March 29, 2011, the Senate version, S.103, was read for the first time and referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

There was no other action on either bill prior to anjournment of the legislative session.  In other words, the bills died.

This memo analyzes H.274.  This memo analyzes S.103.