Death with dignity bill to get public hearingBy PETER HIRSCHFELD
Vermont Press Bureau | January 28,2013MONTPELIER – A bill that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients takes its first step on a preordained path through the Senate when lawmakers host a public hearing in the chamber of the House Tuesday evening.
While no one can guarantee whether the controversial legislation will win majority support in the Senate, advocates have been promised a vote on the body’s floor. And Senate leaders have charted in advance its course though the legislative process.
To proponents, the legislation will enable suffering patients to choose “death with dignity.” To its detractors, the bill establishes a dangerous precedent they say could diminish the value of human life.
“Most people feel very strongly about it one way or the other,” Sen. Claire Ayer, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare said Monday.
Ayer’s committee plays host to what promises to be an emotional night of testimony in Montpelier, where citizens will make cases for or against the bill. The event, which begins at 5 p.m. and will be broadcast live on Vermont Public Television, will be followed by committee hearings on Wednesday and Thursday and a committee vote sometime Friday.
Ayer’s committee has the votes to pass the bill, which will then head to the Senate floor sometime next week. That’s where things could get interesting.
Ayer has agreed to postpone a vote on the floor, and instead refer the bill to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where one of the legislation’s chief opponents, Sen. Dick Sears, will put the legislation through its paces. Sears, a Bennington County Democrat, said Monday that he has “dozens” of problems with the bill, ranging from the practical – like criminal liability for doctors – to the philosophical.
Adding to the intrigue is that fact that the bill has almost no chance of winning a favorable vote from Sears’ committee.
“I suspect it will be voted down in judiciary 2-3,” Sears said.
For the complete story, see Tuesday's Rutland Herald.MORE IN This Just In
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Dutch father of microbiology Antonie van Leeuwenhoek discovers the existence of one-celled organisms; in 1967, The Doors are booked to play the Ed Sullivan show; in 1858, freedom fighter Dred Scott dies on this day in St. Louis.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: No money this year for western rail project, Lola Aiken memorialized in Montpelier, Supreme Court Castleton murder suspect will remain in jail, Shaftbury man fires shots from his AK-47 into neighbor's home.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev arrives in U.S. for historic 13-day visit; in 1987, Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze sign nuclear reduction agreement.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City celebrates completion of its newest mural, on West Street opposite the post office, more than $2 million in federal grants will bolster Vermont's health centers, Patrick McArdle reports on pending sale of Vermont papers.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Henry Hudson sails up the Hudson River as far as present-day Albany, Leo Szilard has epiphany waiting for the light to change, 3 kids report a West Virginia close encounter in 1952.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Who will run for mayor in Rutland next year? Has Bennington overcome its fear of twerking? Documentary 'Hungry Heart' packs the Paramount, and the city's Creek Path scores another million-plus dollars.