Vermont House Passes Death with Dignity

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VT Statehouse, photo by Mark Danielson on flickr
VT Statehouse, photo by Mark Danielson on flickr

Vermont took another step toward allowing terminally ill people to decide the manner and timing of their deaths through a safeguarded process. Today, the Vermont House approved a bill emulating the time-tested Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts by a vote of 81-64. The path has been a long one, and it still has a ways to go before a final version would be presented to Governor Shumlin.

Since its introduction to the full Senate for debate earlier this year, the proposed bill has taken a meandering path. In the Senate, the bill was drastically amended before being approved and sent to the state House. In the House, the Senate bill was introduced and referred to the House Human Services Committee for consideration.

After listening to hours of expert testimony, the committee voted to restore the original bill’s safeguards, bringing it more in line with the existing Death with Dignity laws. Because of the changes to the structure of the bill, the House Judiciary Committee had to go through it with a fine tooth comb to make sure the proposed bill would work with existing Vermont laws.

At the end of last week, the Judiciary Committee had completed its inspection, and approved the bill for consideration by the full House. After a lively floor debate over the course of two days, the House advanced a bill today which differs from the Senate bill. Before a bill can be sent to the Governor, the Senate either needs to agree to the House’s amended bill or request a Committee of Conference made up of House and Senate members to find common ground between the two versions. If a Committee of Conference is assembled, the version they come up with would need to approved by both the Senate and the House before moving to the Governor’s desk.

No doubt about it, the Death with Dignity movement is standing on the precipice of monumental change, and we’ll be there every step of the way until all terminally ill Americans have the right to a dignified death. Thank you for your support.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center



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