Archive for May 20th, 2013

Vermont Now Has “Death With Dignity or “End-Of-Life-Choice” Law

Update: We note that notwithstanding the Governor’s press release, the Associated Press reports Vermont is now the FOURTH state to enact a “Death With Dignity” law. Those states are Oregon, Washington and MONTANA. Vermont is the fourth. WEB


MAY 20, 2013

Gov. Shumlin signs historic End-of-Life Choices bill into law

 MONTPELIER – Gov. Peter Shumlin today signed End-of-Life Choices legislation into law, making Vermont the third state in the nation to enact such a change and the first to approve end-of-life choices through legislative action. Death with Dignity, as the measure is also known, became law in Oregon and Washington through a public ballot initiative.  Vermont’s statute is modeled on Oregon’s 15-year-old law.

 “Vermonters who face terminal illness and are in excruciating pain at the end of their lives now have control over their destinies. This is the right thing to do,” said Gov. Shumlin, who was joined for the signing at the State House in Montpelier by lawmakers and advocates who have fought for the measure for a decade. Recognizing the deeply held convictions on this issue, the Governor said he appreciated that Vermont’s debate over this complex bill was thorough and respectful.

 Under the Vermont law, terminally ill patients in severe pain can work with their physicians and families to hasten the end of their lives with medication. The law includes safeguards, such as a requirement that the patient is suffering from an incurable disease which the physician believes will result in death within 6 months, and that the primary physician and a consulting doctor agree the patient’s condition is terminal, that the patient is capable of making an informed decision to request death-inducing drugs, and that request is made twice over at least a 15 day period. In addition, the patients must administer the drugs to themselves. In three years, the law is calls for some of these administrative safeguards to expire.

 Only Vermont patients may utilize the law.

NOTE: Emphasis provided by WEB.

We have just spoken with a Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center spokesman to clarify whether this means just patients in Vermont hospitals may be covered under this law or not?

Does this law cover Vermont residents being treated in a NH hospital, as so many in the Upper Valley  — including Vermonters — currently are at DHMC?

The DHMC spokesman says the law applies only in Vermont at Vermont hospitals since DHMC operates under the laws of the State of New Hampshire.