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.
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:38 AM EST2013-12-10 14:38:12 GMT
St. Albans police are on the hunt for an armed robber who targeted a convenience store. Police say at about 9:45 p.m. Monday, a man entered the South Main Grocery and displayed a weapon. He left the storeMore >>
St. Albans police are on the hunt for an armed robber who targeted a convenience store.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:40 AM EST2013-12-10 14:40:06 GMT
A former New Hampshire police chief will not face criminal charges. David Seastrand resigned in April after four women came forward and accused him of inappropriate actions ranging from sexual contactMore >>
A former New Hampshire police chief will not face criminal charges.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 9:42 AM EST2013-12-10 14:42:57 GMT
A non-profit group has donated close to $23,000 worth of protective vests to police dogs in Vermont and New Hampshire. The special vests provide two dozen police dogs protection from both bullet and stabMore >>
A nonprofit group has donated close to $23,000 worth of protective vests to police dogs in Vermont and New Hampshire.More >>
Tuesday, December 10 2013 10:01 AM EST2013-12-10 15:01:43 GMT
A new twist in a lawsuit against a Vermont ski resort. A Massachusetts family say their 5-year-old was taking skiing lessons when a snowboard instructor, William Vincent of Montgomery, slammed into herMore >>
A new twist in a lawsuit against a Vermont ski resort.More >>