Vermont Panel Backs Bill to Make it Third to OK Assisted Suicide

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 1, 2013   |   6:37PM   |   Montpelier, VT

A legislative panel in Vermont unanimously approved a bill that would make the state the third in the nation to legalize assisted suicide. Although its future is uncertain, the committee ignored testimony from a packed hearing filled with opponents.

Senate Health & Welfare Committee Chairwoman Claire Ayer, D-Addison applauded the vote saying she was “pleased with the results.”

But Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right to Life, said they were “not listening.”

More on the vote from the Burlington newspaper:



The vote in the Health & Welfare Committee was expected and will send the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it will have a less hearty reception. That committee is expected to start taking testimony on the issue next week and send the bill with an unfavorable recommendation to the full Senate.

The vote in the full Senate will come down to the decisions of a few senators who now say they haven’t made a final determination about how they’ll vote. Among them: Sens. John Rodgers, D-Essex/Orleans; Don Collins, D-Franklin; Chris Bray, D-Addison; and Peter Galbraith, D-Windham, though some others’ votes could hang in the balance, too.

Ayer, a leading advocate for the bill, said of its prospects in the Senate: “I don’t think it’s a slam dunk but I think it’ll be comfortable.”

If the bill passes the Senate, it’s likely to find support in the House, though that chamber defeated a similar bill in 2007. If the bill makes it into law, Vermont would become the third state after Oregon and Washington with such a law.

The Health & Welfare Committee made some changes to the bill Friday, including removing a requirement that those using the law receive care from a palliative specialist before ending their lives. Ayer said the bill would require them to talk to their physician about palliative care but with few specialists available a requirement with be overly burdensome.

Beerworth said removing that made the bill even more objectionable to her.

ACTION: Contact your legislators at to urge them to OPPOSE the assisted suicide bill.