Backers of end-of-life legislation hope for House floor debate

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(Host) Backers of legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to receive medication from their doctors to hasten their death are hoping their bill will be on the House floor for debate by the end of the month.

Last year the House Human Services Committee was deadlocked over the bill and the measure never reached the House floor for debate.

But this year the panel gave its approval to the legislation and the House Judiciary committee is scheduled to review the bill this week.

Lincoln Rep. Mike Fisher is one of the lead sponsors of the legislation. Speaking last night on VPR’s Switchboard program, Fisher said the bill is designed to help patients approach the end of their lives with compassion and dignity:

(Fisher) “That people when they are in that circumstance when they clearly in a terminal state I trust that they will make good decisions for themselves and I trust that they’ll be able to maneuver through conversations with family and with their doctors to be able to live as long as they can and to find a peaceful way out.”

(Host) Northfield Rep. Anne Donahue voted against the bill in the Human Services committee because she’s worried about the precedent that this legislation sets

(Donahue) “So we do have a lot to learn and I think a lot of what it tells us is this is ground we don’t need to go and we shouldn’t want to go we’re crossing a huge chasm when we talk about somebody else helping somebody to die and authorizing and legitimizing that.”

(Host) Governor Jim Douglas has expressed strong concerns about the legislation but it’s not clear if the governor will veto the bill if both the House and Senate give their approval to the legislation.

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