suicide kit
Euthanasia campaigner Dr. Philip Nitschke's 'suicide kit.' (Reuters/Stefan Wermuth)

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Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter Friday to all Vermont legislators to explain the negative consequences of a bill that would allow doctor-prescribed death.

“Suffering patients need understanding and sound medical treatment, not encouragement to kill themselves,” says Litigation Counsel Catherine Glenn Foster. “Even in Oregon, where doctor-prescribed death is already legal, studies show that depressed patients often don’t end up killing themselves when they get counseling and good pain management.”

Bill S. 77 would allow a person “suffering from [a condition his or her] attending physician has determined is a terminal disease” to take his or her life by requesting deadly medication. Opponents of the bill argue that the definition of “terminal illness” has already been abused to include patients who can be medically treated and live for many years.

The Alliance Defending Freedom letter explains that “67 percent of Vermonters do not support Oregon-style physician-assisted suicide legislation” and that “an Oregon-style law would create … more serious problems, such as the documented broadening of its application to non-terminal illnesses and conditions.”

The letter also explains that “when physician-assisted suicide is legitimized, patients are then incentivized to ‘physician-shop’ until they find a doctor willing to call their condition terminal.” When physician-assisted suicide is practiced, the letter explains, “one in five patients don’t die from the drugs at all, but a doctor intervenes to kill them—thus converting the suicide into euthanasia. … [I]t would be tragic to subject Vermont’s weakest citizens to even more pain at the end of their lives.”

Foster adds, “Doctors are supposed to guard life, not escort patients toward death. They also have a fundamental duty to heal patients and not prematurely deny families the opportunity to honor and cherish their loved ones in their final days. We hope legislators realize that this bill is simply bad law.”

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