Vermont assisted suicide report provides scant information

By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director – Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

The Vermont Department of Health recently released the assisted suicide report for the period May 31, 2013 to June 30, 2017. However, the report provides very little information about the actual conditions or reasons related to the assisted suicide deaths of Vermont citizens.

According to the data, there were 52 lethal prescriptions written causing 29 reported assisted suicide deaths. Of the 23 remaining people who received a lethal prescription, 17 died from the underlying disease, one died from other causes and one person died from an unknown cause. Four of the 52 are assumed to be still alive.

In 48 out of 52 prescriptions the death certificate is on file with the Vital Records’ Office.

“Unknown cause” means, that the Vermont Department of Health has no idea whether the person died by assisted suicide or by a natural death.

According to the report underlying diagnoses fall into the following general disease groups:

  • 83% of cases are Cancer (43 total cases);
  • 14% of cases are ALS (7 total cases); and
  • 3% are other causes.

In Oregon other causes includes diabetes.

The American College of Physicians recently passed a position paper opposing assisted suicide. A resolution has been introduced in Congress opposing assisted suicide.

Legalizing assisted suicide gives doctors, the right in law, to decide whether or not your life is worth living. Doctors decide who receives the lethal prescription and it is the doctor who prescribes the lethal drugs self-reports the death to the Vermont Department of Health.

Legalizing assisted suicide creates new pressures upon people who are terminally or chronically ill and is a recipe for elder abuse.

The disability rights group, Not Dead Yet, argues that assisted suicide is discriminatory and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. I agree.

Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission.