The proposed Vermont Death with Dignity bill started its journey through the state’s House of Representatives in earnest this week. The bill (Senate Bill 77) took some unusual turns before being approved by the Senate on February 14th of this year. This week, House Judiciary and Human Services committees heard from Senators about the bill’s path in the Senate and end-of-life care experts familiar with the need for safeguards in Death with Dignity laws.
The hearings started on Wednesday with Sen. Claire Ayer explaining the process the bill went through in the Senate. She was followed by many people with extensive knowledge about Death with Dignity laws including Jean Mallary—widow of Vermont Congressman Richard Mallary.
Hearings continued on Thursday and included supportive testimony from several notables: two former governors, Barbara Roberts from Oregon and Madeleine Kunin from Vermont; Harry Chen, Vermont Commissioner of Public Health; George Eighmey, the newest Death with Dignity National Center board member, former Oregon legislator, and former executive director of the Oregon nonprofit which works directly with patients to access the state’s Death with Dignity Act; and respected palliative care physician Diana Barnard.
The hearings this week wrapped up with expert testimony from Ann Jackson who headed up the Oregon Hospice Association when Oregon’s law went into effect and Marnie Wood (featured in Patient Choices’ Ad available on their website) whose sister used Oregon’s law.
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