Ignoring calls from hundreds of Vermonters imploring him to veto the poorly crafted, dangerous legislation, Governor Peter Shumlin boldly signed the bill into law on Monday, May 20, 2013.
He was surrounded by cheering supporters of legalized assisted-suicide. Also in attendance, Attorney General Bill Sorrell, Commissioner of the Department of Health, Harry Chen, dozens of fervent legislators and House Speaker Shap Smith who is now being credited for the political maneuvering that ultimately got S.77 through both the House and Senate. Despite the super-majority and one-party rule, every vote on S.77 was very close thanks to all of your hard work and support.
On display at the signing of the bill were the powerful personal friends who had unashamedly used their connections (cronyism) throughout the legislative process to pressure individual lawmakers into supporting the legislation that has been described as a “hodge-podge”, “dangerous” and lacking in any semblance of protection for terminally-ill Vermonters. Among the powerful in attendance were former Governor Madeleine Kunin, civil war historian, Howard Coffin (who spent days at the State House to pressure his friend Senator Peter Galbraith to pass the bill for his wife who has cancer), Jean Mallary, wife of former US Congressman Dick Mallary, who committed suicide a year ago, and said at the bill signing that her husband would be looking down from heaven and would “be very, very proud of his state.”
Also in attendance were opponents of doctor-prescribed suicide from Vermont Right to Life, Take it to the People and True Dignity Vermont. Representatives from each group attended the signing to be both a silent witness to this terrible day in Vermont history, and to remind lawmakers that an extensive network of opponents to this law have organized over the past 10 years.
See below for more information as True Dignity has launched a hotline and a link to an abuse report form. If the Governor will not protect Vermonters, we will have to try. Please remain vigilant and encourage others to report any abuse of the new law. We will also build a list of those doctors who will and will not prescribe a lethal dose to their patient.
Watchdog Group Launches Hotline
True Dignity Vermont has launched an abuse hotline in response to the recently-passed bill that will allow Vermont physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients.
Individuals who suspect patients of being unduly influenced to request or ingest lethal drugs, or of being given such drugs against their will, can report such concerns by calling 1-855-787-5455 (1-855-STP-KILL) or emailing True Dignity Vermont at [email protected].
A citizen-led, grassroots initiative, True Dignity Vermont worked alongside other organizations to vigorously oppose the legalization of prescription death in Vermont. That effort failed with the passage of an amended bill on May 13, but leaders say they will press forward to work to protect vulnerable Vermonters who will be at risk as a result of what they call “dangerous, poorly conceived legislation.”
“We believe our role must now expand to that of watchdog, as well as providing education and a resource clearinghouse for Vermonters who want to be sure they will be protected from coercion to end their lives,” according to True Dignity spokesperson Carolyn McMurray of Bennington.
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“The bill that Governor Shumlin is signing into law is fraught with problems that will leave vulnerable patients open to abuse, and will damage patient-doctor trust,” she said, adding that True Dignity Vermont plans to develop a registry of “safe” doctors, nursing homes and other health care providers who will not participate in assisted suicide. “Vermonters need to be reassured that the end of life need not be frightening and painful, and that they will be supported properly with the very best palliative care and pain control. Enabling suicide is not a compassionate response to suffering.”
More information about True Dignity Vermont is available at https://truedignityvt.org/
LifeNews Note: Mary Beerworth is the director of Vermont Right to Life.