Thursday, May 16, 2013

Vermont to legalize physician-assisted suicide

Excerpted from “Vermont about to become 4th state with aid-in-dying law,” CBS News. May 14, 2013 -- Vermont is poised to join three other states permitting doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients after the state House approved a compromise bill similar to Oregon's 1997 law. The bill, approved on Monday, now goes before Gov. Peter Shumlin, a strong supporter of the legislation. It marks the first time a state has granted legislative approval to such a measure. By a 75-65 roll call vote, the House concurred with a Senate version of the bill that largely mirrors the Oregon law for three years and then shifts to a system with less government monitoring.

Critics continued to voice their concerns during House debate on Monday, while supporters, who knew they had the votes to pass the bill, were more muted. "There is potential here for abuse of the disabled," said Rep. Carolyn Branagan, R-Georgia, "especially disabled elders," she said. "This is not medical care. It is the opposite." Sen. Richard McCormack, D-Windsor, watched the debate from the House gallery. "This bill makes no judgment about the value of anybody's life," he said after the vote. "It makes a very positive judgment about the value of personal freedom and the right to make one's own choices."

If Shumlin signs the bill, Vermont would become the fourth state, and the first east of the Mississippi, to allow doctors to help patients die by writing a prescription for a lethal dose of medication. Oregon passed the first-in-the-nation law by referendum; Washington state followed suit in 2006; and a court order in Montana made it legal in that state. Debate included two packed Statehouse hearings in which supporters and opponents took turns voicing their views on the legislation, sometimes dubbed "death with dignity" by backers and "physician-assisted suicide" by opponents. After July 1, 2016, Vermont would move to a model pushed by some senators who complained the Oregon system has too much government intervention. Those changes would require less monitoring and reporting by physicians. However, there's widespread expectation that lawmakers may push to eliminate the changes set to take effect in 2016, leaving an Oregon-style law in place. Full story can be found here.


Dave Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics)CMDA CEO David Stevens, MD, MA (Ethics): "CMDA members, as part of the Vermont Alliance of Ethical Healthcare and the leadership of CMDA board member and renowned Christian bioethicist Dr. Bob Orr, have successfully fought legalization of PAS in Vermont for around 10 years. As happened in other states, proponents just keep coming back and finally got the numbers they needed.

The Vermont Senate originally passed a much more liberal one page bill simply stating that a physician couldn’t be held legally responsible if they prescribed pain medicine knowing that the patient was going to take an overdose and a physician or family members could be present as the patient killed themselves. It was so loosely constructed that it could have easily allowed a physician to start an IV, hook up pain medicine drip and then allow the patient to start their overdose, bringing us that much closer to legalized euthanasia. The bill passed, which will likely be signed by the governor, only puts the ineffective Oregon style law (two oral, one written request, second opinion, two week waiting period and reporting) into practice for three years with the assumption that the state will remove all monitoring and “safeguards” then.

The domino on the eastern side of the U.S. has fallen. Legalization is already being considered in New Jersey, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Proponents, now emboldened with this success, will push even harder. George Soros and other well-heeled funders will throw their pocketbooks open wider with the goal of getting liberal Western and Northeastern states to join the lemmings heading over the cliff. They will then sweep across every state in between. PAS may be in your state soon.

CMDA is fighting this tsunami of death that will destroy patient trust and the doctor-patient relationship while also endangering our patients. The right to die will quickly become the duty to die and will expand from the terminally ill to the chronically ill, from the physical ill to the mentally ill, from assisted suicide to euthanasia and from those who can give consent, to those who can’t and finally to those who won’t. The tragedy we have seen in Holland, Switzerland and Belgium will be our reality too.

It isn’t time to wring our hands and despair. It is time to dig in and fight. The key is you – individual doctors standing up as prophetic voices to their government and the people in their state. CMDA will train you, equip you and go with you into the battle. We will pray for you and rally others to your side, but our success will be in direct proportion to the number of Christian doctors who will stand up.

We’ve lost the battle in Vermont but the war continues. It is still winnable. All we need is faithful men and women to enlist in the fight. Will you answer the call?

'All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.'
Edmund Burke

Ethics Statements for Euthanasia, Physician-Assisted Suicide and Suicide
Testimonies Against Physician-Assisted Suicide
Arguments Against Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia
PAS Talking Points

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