Senate takes lunch recess, will soon resume what could be a very long debate

A debate that began three hours ago doesn’t look to be ending any time soon as the Vermont Senate today considers whether or not doctors should be allowed to hasten the deaths of their terminally ill patients.

Senate President John Campbell moments ago called a 30-minute recess, and senators are due to resume the floor debate at 1 p.m.

Sen Claire Ayer, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Health and Welfare, has been handed the task of defending the legislation against criticism from its opponents. She said the well-crafted bill will allow Vermonters to write their own last “pages of their life story.”

Sen. Dick Sears, meanwhile, is leading the charge against the legislation. Borrowing words invoked by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun to argue against the death penalty, Sears said Vermont “government has no business in the machinery of death.”

The senate chamber is packed with onlookers, most of whom are wearing bright orange stickers signaling their opposition to “physician assisted death.”

The outcome of today’s vote remains in doubt, with three Senate lawmakers still refusing to say whether they’ll stand for or against the measure. Stay tuned for results of the vote, which we’ll bring you immediately after the votes are counted later this afternoon or evening.

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