House lawmakers this evening rejected a last-ditch attempt to postpone action on “death with dignity,” paving the way for an hours-long debate that will likely end with the preliminary approval of legislation that would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients.
An amendment offered at the outset of this highly anticipated floor debate sought to delay indefinitely action on a bill known here as “S.77.” The measure failed by a vote of 51-90, after which House Speaker Shap Smith declared an hour-long recess for dinner.
When debate resumes at 7:30 p.m., lawmakers will consider a slew of amendments, most of them authored by opponents of the legislation. Rep. Mary Morrissey, a Republican from Bennington, for instance, wants medical examiners to have to list the lethal dose of medication as the immediate cause of death for people who choose to avail themselves of what critics call “physician assisted suicide.”
Rep. Duncan Kilmartin, a Newport Republican, wants to spend $250,000 to create a “special investigations unit” at the Attorney General’s Office, where a prosecutor and investigator would work full-time probing for abuses of the new statute.
“People who are well-educated and or well-heeled may have the resources to make very informed decisions,” Kilmartin said during a Democratic caucus earlier today. Continue Reading →