The controversial end-of-life choices bill got an OK in the Vermont Senate Thursday and is now moving on to the House.
The Senate ultimately voted 20-8 to codify patient rights to end their own lives and indemnify doctors and family members involved in the process.
But the real debate Thursday centered over how to do so, leading to the second straight tie vote in as many days decided by Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. Half the senators wanted a formalized process, wherein patients ask doctors multiple times for medication to end their lives. The remaining 15 preferred an informal system, along the lines of what currently happens where doctors simply warn patients of pain medications' potential for overdose.
Legislators who prevailed Thursday aren't claiming victory yet and those on the wrong end of the vote say the fight isn't over until the House weighs in.
"I think the floor time that we took was well worth it. There was a clear message from Vermonters on both sides, proponents and the opponents of this matter, that they wanted to have this debated," said Sen. John Campbell, D-Vt. President Pro Tem.
"I don't know what will happen. I never say never around here because I don't know what the House will do now that it's gone to their body, I don't know what a conference committee might do or I don't know what the governor might do," said Sen. Dick Sears, D-Bennington County.
"I voted for the bill yesterday to make sure that it would keep going. And today I voted for it because if the bill were defeated today or if it were a tie or if it were defeated that would be it. It wouldn't even go to the House. So, I want the discussion to continue," said Sen. Claire Ayer, D-Addison County.
Earlier in the day both Gov. Shumlin and Attorney General Bill Sorrell expressed dissatisfaction with the bill that came out of this same body Wednesday night, where they struck most of the language and instead inserted this simpler version.
The bill will now go to the House, where those I spoke with said they plan to institute many of the elements of language into the bill, similar to what Oregon has on the books.
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