Vermont Legislative Leaders Who Pushed Legalization of Doctor-Prescribed Suicide Lose Seats in 2014 Elections


 Vermont Lt. Governor, Phil Scott

Vermont Lt. Governor, Phil Scott

“It has not been widely published, but Vermont proponents of the law to allow doctor-prescribed suicide (Act 39) were almost defeated or soundly defeated in the November 2014 elections,” stated Heather Weininger, Executive Director of Wisconsin Right to Life.

•  Incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin made passage of the Vermont law to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide one of his four top priorities when he ran for Governor in 2012. Act 39 was enacted in 2013 with his strong support. In his 2014 re-election race, Shumlin was expected to easily defeat his Republican opponent — a political unknown who got a late start, had little funding and had never run for public office. Shumlin won by just a few thousand votes and appears unlikely to remain as Chair of the Democrat Governors Association.

•  Representative Linda Waite-Simpson led the fight in the House for passage of Act 39, publicly stating she was “doing this for my Dad who was a member of the Hemlock Society.” Compassion and Choices, the national leader pushing for legalization of euthanasia and doctor-prescribed suicide, hired Waite-Simpson as its Executive Director while she continued to keep her House seat. Her leadership on Act 39 was a campaign issue and Waite-Simpson came in 4th in a two-seat district.

•  Representative Cindy Weed was the only member in her county to vote in favor of Act 39 and her vote was also a campaign issue. Weed lost 55% to 45% to an opponent of Act 39.

•  The Patient Choices Vermont PAC attempted to defeat sitting Vermont Lt. Governor, Phil Scott, who broke two tie votes against Act 39 in the Senate. Scott delivered a crushing defeat to his opponent.

“We are buoyed by these election results which send a strong signal that support for killing a patient rather than caring for them is not a winning issue with the public, even in a state like Vermont. And, it shouldn’t be,” continued Weininger. “Public education is key to informing the public that we must maintain the goal of caring for a patient until his or her natural death, rather than allowing death to occur by lethal ingestion of drugs.”