Disability-rights groups are among the opponents saying terminally ill patients might feel undue pressure from family members or others to end their lives. Edward Mahoney, a religious studies professor at St. Michael's College in Colchester and president of the opponents' group Vermont Alliance for Ethical Health Care, said he was bothered by the fact that the patient's death certificate would list the underlying disease as the cause of death, rather than the lethal drugs.
Mahoney also questioned the lack of a requirement in the legislation for a psychiatric consultation, arguing that usually occurs with people who state an intent to end their own lives.
The Senate Health and Welfare Committee and the Judiciary committee will hear joint testimony Tuesday at the state House, with Health and Welfare also hearing testimony Wednesday and Thursday. Ayer says she hopes it will approve legislation by Friday.
The bill is expected to go to the Judiciary Committee after it clears Health and Welfare. Judiciary Chairman Richard Sears, D-Bennington, opposes the bill, but has he will allow it to go to the Senate floor for a vote and not try to kill it in committee.