Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin promised to legalize assisted suicide during the 2010 election campaign. Shumlin also accepted out-of-state money from the suicide lobby towards his election campaign.
In mid-March the Vermont Senate Judiciary committee rejected a bill to legalize assisted suicide. Bills to legalize assisted suicide have been defeated on several occasions over the past few years.
The suicide lobby appears to be getting desperate in Vermont.
attach the assisted suicide bill to a tanning bed regulation bill.
After a two hour debate in the Vermont Senate, yesterday (April 12), the Senate voted 18 to 11 to reject the assisted suicide bill again.
The article on WPTZ.com (News Channel 5) stated:
Supporters engineered the showdown earlier in the week when, in a surprise maneuver, the Health and Welfare Committee attached the bill to an unrelated measure regulating indoor tanning salons.
The Judiciary Committee had earlier decided against sending the end of life bill to the Senate floor.
"For ten years we've watched the 'death with dignity' bill in the Senate, for ten years it's stayed in committee with no hope of getting out," said Sen. Claire Ayer, an Addison Democrat. "At least have the discussion, whether the vote is up or down is almost irrelevant."
But opponents, including Sen. Richard Sears of Bennington County who is chairman of the Judiciary Committee, railed against what he considered an assault on Senate procedure. At one point Sears told colleagues the bill had been "hijacked" from his committee and if senators stood by, the "people of Vermont would be the big losers."
Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott ruled the tanning and end of life measures were not germane to one another and senators agreed, effectively ending consideration for the year.
But the preceding debate, before a standing room only crowd, including spirited floor speeches zigzagging between the value of providing terminally ill Vermonters with end of life choices, and the relative importance of following Senate protocol.
Spectators witnessed several moments of political theater when Sears questioned Sen. Hinda Miller, the Chittenden County Democrat who had engineered the debate, asking her to explain legal and ethical considerations of the bill.
After Miller was unable to answer a series of questions, she asked for a recess and rushed over to confront Sears.
Senate President Pro-Tem John Campbell then tried to referee the tension between members of his own party.
A moment later, Sears said to Miller, 'If you want to debate, we'll have a debate. If you aren't prepared for the debate, you shouldn't cry foul! It's not abuse."
"Be nice," another Democrat cautioned Sears.
Campbell, who also opposes the legislation, told reporters with so much pressure by advocacy groups, "this debate has to happen."
The bill would permit Vermont doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to a patient who had twice requested it, was in the final weeks of life, and who had cleared a series of other eligibility requirements. It is patterned after an established law in Oregon.
Several members spoke passionately about their own family histories with terminal illness, or those of vocal constituents, arguing for or against various dimensions of the proposal.
"I respect those who object on religious grounds, but my choices should not be restricted because of someone else's religious preferences," said Sen. Diane Snelling, a Republican from Chittenden County.
Ahead of the vote, some members made clear they were not passing judgment on the merits of the 'death with dignity' bill, but on the process of the Senate.
Many expect the issue will be reintroduced next year. Gov. Peter Shumlin supports the bill, and House Speaker Shap Smith has said a majority of his chamber would vote in favor of it were the Senate to approve it first.
Dick Walters, president of the advocacy group Patient Choices Vermont, said he "appreciates the attempt by our Senate supporters to bring this bill to the Senate floor for a vote. We celebrate their courage and willingness to discuss an issue that is so important to so many Vermonters."
The roll call vote (to overturn the ruling of Lt. Gov. Scott and proceed with full consideration of the bill) follows:Ashe - YES
Ayer - YES
Baruth - YES
Benning - NO
Brock - NO
Campbell - NO
Carris - NO
Cummings - NO
Doyle - NO
Flory - NO
Fox - ABSENT
Galbraith - YES
Giard - NO
Hartwell - NO
Illuzzi - NO
Kitchel - NO
Kittell - YES
Lyons - YES
MacDonald - YES
Mazza - NO
McCormack - YES
Miller - YES
Mullin - NO
Nitka - NO
Pollina - NO
Sears - NO
Snelling - YES
Starr - NO
Westman - NO
White - YES
Congratulations True Dignity Vermont.YES-11
NO - 18