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Vt. hearings begin on assisted death bill

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 29, 2013 at 6:00 pm •  Published: January 29, 2013

"I saw the fear in my son's eyes. I saw how the double standard shook him," Page said. He urged lawmakers, "Give the Tim Pages of today and tomorrow no reason whatsoever to consider suicide."

Others spoke of friends and loved ones who experienced prolonged suffering as they died.

Judy Murphy of Bennington described sitting with one terminally ill friend. "She ended her life by starving herself," she said, adding that it took eight days. "She should have had the choice of death with dignity."

The bill would allow patients give six months or less to live by at least two doctors to declare their wish to die three times — once in writing — during a 15-day period and then be given a prescription for a lethal dose of barbiturates, which the patient would go home to take.

Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison and chairwoman of the Health and Welfare Committee, said she expected to have her committee approve the bill by Friday. From there, it is slated to go the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has already agreed to allow it to get to the Senate floor, but may do so with a recommendation that the full Senate vote against it.

The measure is drawing intense lobbying on both sides, with the group Patient Choices Vermont working for its passage and groups ranging from the Vermont Medical Society to disability-rights organizations opposing it.