Following an epic battle of life vs. death, the State of Vermont passed a law which allows a doctor to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to a patient who is terminally ill. Governor Shumlin is expected to sign the measure into law. A strong, committed coalition of opponents, which included Wisconsin Right to Life, fought valiantly for over 10 years to keep doctor-prescribed suicide at bay. The 2012 elections and a Governor who ran on a platform of doctor-prescribed suicide prevailed, and Vermont will now join Washington and Oregon as states where doctors can prescribe lethal meds.
The new Vermont law is crafted after the Oregon law but has a sunset provision which allows government guidelines to expire after three years, leaving doctors free to do as they please. Guidelines in Oregon have proven to be weak, but Vermont will not even have those.
Doctor-prescribed suicide is the prelude to euthanasia and a recipe for elder abuse. Vulnerable patients can be pressured or coerced into requesting suicide pills. Since no medical person is required to be present when the hundreds of pills are taken, a person who will benefit from the patient’s death could be complicit in the death. In Oregon, two patients who requested payment for chemotherapy from the Oregon health department were denied and instead told the State would pay for suicide pills, even though the patients did not request them. Suicide rates are rising nationwide, especially in Oregon, which can be viewed as a natural outcome when suicide becomes a “good.”
Wesley J. Smith predicts that “as the doctor-prescribed death movement advances, its proffered restrictions get progressively weaker.” Activity in numbers of states to legalize death is an ominous trend which must be aggressively fought as Wisconsin Right to Life has done and will continue to do in our state.