Vt. Senate moves forward with assisted death bill - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt. Senate moves forward with assisted death bill

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MONTPELIER, Vt. -

After more than six hours of debate, the Senate voted "no" in order to vote "yes" on continuing debate of a physician-aided dying bill.

Many of the arguments came from Addison County's Sen. Claire Ayer and Bennington County's Sen. Dick Sears, the Democrats' chair of the Health and Welfare Committee and Judiciary Committee respectively, both of which took up the bill before it came to the floor Tuesday.

"S.77 is a bill to bring choice and control to mentally competent, terminally ill Vermonters as they embrace and face the final stage of their dying process," Ayer said.

"The majority of the Judiciary Committee on the other hand see a bill with serious flaws, with problems, and see a bill that leaves us with a number of questions," Sears said.

Both agree that relatively few Vermonters would choose to use the program, should it be enacted. Ayer and Sears believe 5-11 Vermonters would receive state OK to do so per year. Facts and figures aren't up for debate, but the interpretation of that data is. Though the body only faced a vote on whether to reject the bill outright, legislators spent hours debating the minutiae of the bill.

"But I'm looking for a really simple answer to a really simple question," said Sen. Dick McCormack, D-Windsor County.

Tuesday, legislators agreed debate should move forward.

Wednesday afternoon, the senators will have to opportunity to offer amendments. Depending on what comes forward, the level of support in the body could still change.

Should the bill get a majority of votes again, the measure will head to the House for consideration. The body has passed similar legislation in previous session and the governor has expressed his support.

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