May 21, 2013
By Michael Muskal
With the strokes from three gubernatorial pens, Vermont on Monday became the fourth state in the country to allow doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients.
Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the measure in a state House ceremony in Montpelier, capping a decade-long effort on the issue in Vermont.
Vermont is the first state to pass such a law through the legislative process. Oregon and Washington enacted their laws by referendum; in Montana, it was legalized by the courts.
“This historic achievement is a political breakthrough that will boost support for death-with-dignity bills nationwide,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee. The group describes itself as the nation’s leading advocacy group for end-of-life decisions.
The law, which went into effect Monday, allows for an end-of-life procedure with the consent of a patient’s doctor after the patient has made more than one request for help in ending life. The bill also stipulates that the patient has a chance to retract the request.