On March 14 at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on physician assisted suicide (S.103), Harry Chen, MD, Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Health, testified that the bill was “a top priority” for the governor, who views it as a “civil rights issue.”
Honestly, I have never before considered that having a doctor write a prescription with the sole intent of killing a patient should be labeled a “civil right!” So, according to Dr. Chen’s testimony, if S.103 with all its so-called protections for a person with 6 months or less to live to get a doctor to prescribe a lethal dose of medication and a pharmacist to fill it with the express purpose of taking one’s life is a civil right, why isn’t it a civil right for a person who has more than 6 months to live? Or someone going through difficult economic, social, or family issues? Or someone depressed? Or a person who cannot self-administer the lethal dose of medication? Or a person no longer able to communicate? Or a teenager who just can’t go on? Or a person coming to the state/country for the sole purpose of suicide? Or parents who just had a baby with a disability and decide they don’t want that baby to live?
All of the above, and more, would be allowable reasons in Holland to have a doctor prematurely end someone’s life. I consider this murder; and to call S.103 a civil right is a stretch and opens the door to all the other possibilities. When people say there is no slippery slope with S.103 (PAS), they are not being honest. Several years ago I attended a Death with Dignity Vermont presentation facilitated by a family physician who stated numerous times that if Vermont passes a bill it will be the first step and may not meet the needs of everyone, but it is the first step. S.103 is not a law that is needed in any state or any country, now or ever!
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