Vermont

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With Governor Peter Shumlin's signature on May 20, 2013, Vermont became the third state to enact a Death with Dignity law—the first in New England and the first to be passed through legislation. The law went into effect immediately.

For Immediate Release: Vermont Senate Passes Amended Death with Dignity Bill

Contact: Peg Sandeen, MSW, Executive Director
              Death with Dignity National Center
              503-228-4415
              psandeen@deathwithdignity.org

The Vermont legislature is in a position to enact historic legislation in the next few days. Should the Vermont House vote to concur with a Senate amendment passed on Wednesday, May 8, Vermont will become the first state in the nation to pass a Death with Dignity law through the legislative process.

The bill has had a difficult journey to passage and faces two more hurdles: the above-mentioned House concurrence and signature by the Governor. In past statements, Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin has promised to sign carefully-safeguarded Death with Dignity legislation, and he issued the following statement today:

I understand the deep convictions held by Vermonters on all sides of this extraordinarily personal issue. But I also know how important it is for those who face terminal illness and tremendous pain to have this choice, in conjunction with their physicians and loved ones, in the final days of their lives. I am grateful for the Legislature's continued hard work on this difficult issue.

Read more: For Immediate Release: Vermont Senate Passes Amended Death with Dignity Bill

This Week in the Movement

VT House of Representatives, photo by PCV

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date with information about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook and Twitter. Below are highlights from this week.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

Vermont House Passes Death with Dignity

VT Statehouse, photo by Mark Danielson on flickr

Vermont took another step toward allowing terminally ill people to decide the manner and timing of their deaths through a safeguarded process. Today, the Vermont House approved a bill emulating the time-tested Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts by a vote of 81-64. The path has been a long one, and it still has a ways to go before a final version would be presented to Governor Shumlin.

Since its introduction to the full Senate for debate earlier this year, the proposed bill has taken a meandering path. In the Senate, the bill was drastically amended before being approved and sent to the state House. In the House, the Senate bill was introduced and referred to the House Human Services Committee for consideration.

After listening to hours of expert testimony, the committee voted to restore the original bill's safeguards, bringing it more in line with the existing Death with Dignity laws. Because of the changes to the structure of the bill, the House Judiciary Committee had to go through it with a fine tooth comb to make sure the proposed bill would work with existing Vermont laws.

Read more: Vermont House Passes Death with Dignity

This Week in the Movement

Dr. Morris from How to Die in Oregon

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date with information about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook and Twitter. Below are highlights from this week.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

A Social Worker's Role at End of Life

Kevin Kozin, MTS, LICSW

Kevin Kozin, MTS, LICSW, is a clinical social worker and therapist and formerly worked as a hospice social worker. He's currently a board member of the National Association of Social Workers in Massachusetts and serves as the Chair of the Mental Health and Substance Abuse Committee. He works with adolescents, adults, couples, and families through psychotherapy and grief counseling, which lead to healing results.

The New England Journal of Medicine published an article this April titled, "Implementing a Death with Dignity Program at a Comprehensive Cancer Center". This well-written article takes a candid look at the demographics and experience of a particular cancer center in Washington state, where the Death with Dignity Act has been in effect since March, 2009. Death with Dignity refers to the Washington and Oregon statutes which allow individuals who have six months or fewer to live (as determined by two physicians) and have the capacity to make medical decisions the option to request prescribed medication which allows for a peaceful and painless death.

Read more: A Social Worker's Role at End of Life

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Defend dignity. Take action.

You are the key to ensuring well-crafted Death with Dignity laws for all Americans. With your financial and volunteer help, the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, nonprofit organization, has been the leading advocate in the Death with Dignity movement. Individual contributions helped us pass new Death with Dignity laws in Washington and Vermont, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the Death with Dignity movement.

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