End-of-Life Choice, Death with Dignity, Palliative Care and Counseling

Moving Forward: Vermont Senate Clears Aid-in-Dying Billby Chris


by Compassion & Choices staff
February 12, 2013

State Leads the Pack of Numerous Legislatures Advancing End-of-Life Choice

The Vermont Senate voted on Valentine’s Day to pass a bill to allow mentally competent, terminally ill Vermonters the option of aid in dying. After days of debate on this important issue, the bill easily cleared the Senate 22-8. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“The Senate’s passage of this bill is a significant advancement in expanding end-of-life choice. It positions Vermont to become the first state to approve aid in dying through the legislative process,” said Kathryn Tucker, Director of Legal Affairs for Compassion & Choices, the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life. Tucker testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of the bill on February 6.

“The bill affirms the soundness of aid in dying as a valid end-of-life option for terminally ill adults, provides clear protection to physicians who provide it, and leaves the regulation of the practice to professional practice standards, which is how all of medicine is governed,” said Tucker.

Vermonters have been campaigning to establish aid in dying as an open, legal medical practice for ten years. Patient Choices Vermont, the state’s leading advocacy organization on the issue, is leading the grassroots effort to make Vermont the first state legislature to establish aid in dying.

There is significant support among Vermonters, and throughout the nation, from Americans who want the ability to control how they spend their last days of life.

A poll conducted last spring of Vermont voters found overwhelming support: 74 percent favored allowing a mentally competent adult, who is dying of a terminal disease with no hope of recovery, the choice to bring about his own death. Only 17 opposed. People want to know that their doctors can support their medical decisions without risking sanction. This bill allows medical decisions to be made where they belong – privately between patients and doctors, in consultation with family members if the patients choose.

The vote provides a boost to Vermonters who have worked long and hard for this bill and it adds momentum to the national movement.

“It’s exciting to see Vermont, after more than decade of fighting for the right to aid in dying, make such progress. Compassion & Choices will continue to work with Patient Choices Vermont and our large grassroots base across the state to support this bill as it moves through the House,” said Tucker.

Bills to support aid in dying are also moving in Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Kansas. Other states are advancing strategies to make aid in dying expressly legal. Compassion & Choices is mounting full campaigns in six states and supporting efforts in several others.

We can advance these bills … with your help. Please sign our petition for the Compassionate Aid in Dying bill; the petition is on the homepage of CompassionAndChoices.org.