Vermont Hospitals Will Wait to Implement New Assisted Suicide Law

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 20, 2013   |   3:45PM   |   Montpelier, VT

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin had not yet signed the bill to make Vermont the third state to legalize assisted suicide and hospitals are already opting to dely implementing it.

Most Vermont hospitals are expected, at least for the time being, to opt out of implementing it.

As the Associated Press reports:

That word came Friday from officials at several hospitals, as well as from Jill Olson, vice president for policy and government affairs at the Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems.

Olson said her group is advising hospitals to take their time to develop policies for how to handle aid-in-dying on their properties and among their medical staffs. “There’s a lot of work to do to get ready to do it,” she said.

“We are not ready,” said Laural Ruggles, spokeswoman for the Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital in St. Johnsbury.

Many bills contain an effective date that comes well after they’re signed into law by the governor. But Ayer said because the bill passed right at adjournment, legislative procedure required that it either be signed by Shumlin within five days or wait until January, when lawmakers return for the second half of their biennium, for enactment.

She said hospitals feeling rushed was a “downside,” to the quick effective date. “Having it not take effect until January would be a worse downside,” she said. “There are people who are waiting for this bill.”

Using the procedures outlined in the law is voluntary for hospitals and for physicians, and the law bars hospitals from requiring that employees be willing to use it as a condition of employment.



Wesley J. Smith, an attorney and euthanasia opponent, says some medical clinics in Vermont may want to establish assisted suicdi free zones, as happened in the state of Washington after it legalized assisted suicide.

Actually, they should establish a fixed policy quickly: Never in our hospital! That’s worked in Washington, for example, where some declared policies of non cooperation.

More: Since the odious law allows hospitals, nursing homes, doctors etc., to refuse participation, they should do just that. Indeed, rather than help kill, doctors and hospitals should post copies of the Hippocratic Oath in their waiting rooms and publicly declare their practice or facility to be an “assisted suicide free zone.” It would set a great public example by proclaiming loudly that killing is not medicine. And it would reduce the number of assisted suicides.