Assisted Suicide Legislation is Ripe for Abuse: A Vermont Attorney’s Letter to the Bennington Banner

Editor’s note. The letter to the editor was reproduced on the webpage of “True Dignity Vermont: Vermont Citizens Against Assisted Suicide” at http://truedignityvt.org/?p=406

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I write in response to the local physician who supports assisted suicide legislation (H.274 and S.103) in Vermont. The physician’s conclusions are highly disputable. He refers to the website of the special interest group that is spending millions to pass assisted suicide in Vermont, and a Hollywood puff piece promoting assisted suicide. Let’s not form our opinions from such propaganda. Let’s look at the real facts based on the language of the legislation, the data from other states, and reputable, published medical studies:

Oregon reports show that legalized assisted-suicide is consistent with elder abuse and misuse by depressed patients. An article analyzing the Oregon data, published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, explains that the elderly are at greater risk than the general population and that the possibilities of coercion are real. Further, the article concludes that some patients in Oregon are cleared for assisted suicide and have taken their own lives while having depression at the time (http://jme.bmj.com/content/37/3/171,  abstract with link to full text)

There is a complete lack of safeguards in H.274 and S.103 once the patient fills the lethal prescription. No witnesses are required at the time of ingestion, and there is no requirement that the person be mentally competent or aware of what is happening at time of ingestion. See S.103 in full (www.leg.state.vt.us/database/status/textonly.cfm?Bill=S.0103&Session=2012).

Another study published in the journal of Current Oncology examined all states and countries where assisted suicide is legal and found that safeguards are regularly ignored and those transgressions are not prosecuted. See PEREIRA, J. Current Oncology, North America, Feb. 18, 2011, www.current-oncology.com/index.php/oncology/article/view/883/645, available in full online, at no charge).

LANI CANDELORA, J.D.
Pownal