It was a packed Statehouse filled with emotional pleas and personal stories Tuesday night. Hundreds gathered in Montpelier to voice their opinions on the proposed Death with Dignity Act, or what opponents call Physician-Assisted Suicide.
"It is a sad day in Vermont when our lawyers are asking health care professionals to help human beings to die rather than extending compassionate and respectful care to ease pain and suffering," said Lynn Caulfield, a Dummerston resident and registered nurse.
Judy Murphy still mourns the loss of her friend. Who she says starved herself to death. She was terminally ill and suffered for months.
"Not everyone would make that choice to die. But many, including myself, would have great comfort in knowing that that option is possible," said Murphy.
Several opposed to the bill worry that if passed, the definition of suicide could be lost, Guy Page from Barre who asked his son, who has struggled with suicidal thoughts for years, about his view of the bill.
"His response shocked me. Shaking with anger and fear he said 'What hypocrites. Everyday my teachers tell me that killing myself is never an option. But here they are saying that suicide is 'okay'," said Page.
Supporters, like Melinda Moulton of Huntington, argue the decision to keep living lies with the patient alone. "Do we as people really have the right do deny another human being the legal means to end their life if they so choose?" asked Moulton.
Others worry that a wrong diagnosis could end a life too soon. Three doctors told Erika Riel she was going to die. But a fourth doctor in Massachusetts told her she would live to be 80. "The doctors in Vermont made mistakes. They gave me a mistaken diagnosis," said Riel, "if it was that easy for me to get a terminal diagnosis, how many other people are getting wrong diagnoses?"
The committee on health and welfare is planning four days of hearings. A vote could happen Friday. It would still have to pass both the house and senate before arriving on the Governers desk for a signature.
Saturday, December 7 2013 9:24 AM EST2013-12-07 14:24:20 GMT
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Saturday, December 7 2013 9:12 AM EST2013-12-07 14:12:35 GMT
In Burlington's Old North End there are still hints of what used to be -- a bustling Little Jerusalem years go. But one symbol of the area's past is not so obvious."It's priceless, it literally is oneMore >>
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Saturday, December 7 2013 8:32 AM EST2013-12-07 13:32:27 GMT
If you're lucky, you may have seen a snowy owl in Vermont. Researchers say the birds are traveling even farther south than usual -- some even as far south as North Carolina. We spotted one Friday afternoonMore >>
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Saturday, December 7 2013 7:51 AM EST2013-12-07 12:51:22 GMT
South Burlington police say a shoplifter tried to hide her drugs by swallowing them at the police station. Police arrested Diana Matt Friday night at the University Mall Kohl's for allegedly stealingMore >>
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Saturday, December 7 2013 7:49 AM EST2013-12-07 12:49:56 GMT
Police in Brattleboro are looking for the driver of a car that hit and killed a pedestrian Friday night. Police say, just after 7 p.m., the car struck the man at Western Avenue and Union Street and thenMore >>
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Friday, December 6 2013 11:16 PM EST2013-12-07 04:16:55 GMT
A Connecticut man is charged with DUI after police say he admitted to overdosing on prescribed Ritalin when he was pulled over. The incident happened on Route 105 in Berkshire late Friday afternoon. AuthoritiesMore >>
A Connecticut man is charged with DUI after police say he admitted to overdosing on prescribed Ritalin when he was pulled over.More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:03 PM EST2013-12-07 03:03:22 GMT
In Dorset, a car crashed into a bank and there was no drive-through lane.The car jumped the curb in front of the Berkshire Bank Friday morning, taking out a railing and getting hung up on the front steps.More >>
In Dorset, a car crashed into a bank -- and there was no drive-through lane. More >>
Friday, December 6 2013 10:01 PM EST2013-12-07 03:01:17 GMT
The longtime bookkeeper at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is expected to plead guilty to embezzling from the business and a local youth hockey program.Cold Hollow in Waterbury is one of Vermont's top tourist attractions.More >>
The longtime bookkeeper at Cold Hollow Cider Mill is expected to plead guilty to embezzling from the business and a local youth hockey program.More >>