Academic journal article Issues in Law & Medicine

36 Vermont Bar J: Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice

Academic journal article Issues in Law & Medicine

36 Vermont Bar J: Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Recipe for Elder Abuse and the Illusion of Personal Choice

Article excerpt

In 2009, a legislative proposal to legalize physician-assisted suicide in Vermont was introduced, but not brought to a vote. The proposal was modeled on Oregon's assisted suicide act. Oregon is one of just two states where assisted suicide is legal. In Vermont, proponents have indicated that they will be backing a similar proposal in the 2011 legislative session.

The American Medical Association (AMA) defines physician-assisted suicide as follows: "Physician-assisted suicide occurs when a physician facilitates a patient's death by providing the necessary means and/or information to enable the patient to perform the life-ending act (e.g., the physician provides sleeping pills and information about the lethal dose, while aware that the patient may commit suicide)." The AMA rejects assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is also opposed by disability rights groups such as Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, and Not Dead Yet.

The vast majority of states have rejected it. In 2010, New Hampshire and Canada rejected it by wide margins. In Vermont, legislative proposals to enact assisted suicide have failed multiple times.

There are just two states where assisted suicide is legal: Oregon and Washington. These states have laws that give doctors and others immunity from criminal and civil liability. In Montana, there is a court decision that gives doctors a potential defense to criminal prosecution, but does not legalize assisted suicide by giving doctors and others criminal and civil immunity. …

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