The State of Vermont has legalized assisted suicide over video chat through a bill signed by Republican Governor Phil Scott and passed by the Democrat House and Senate into law Wednesday which removes the requirement for a physician to examine a terminally ill patient in person prior to prescribing medication intended for the patient’s suicide.
Per the bill, S 74, the patient has to make an “oral request… to hasten the patient’s own death.” The request can now be made through tele-medicine, defined as “live interactive audio and video” instead of a doctor’s office or home visit. The patient must have a “terminal condition” and be informed about hospice care options.
The bill removes exposure to civil or criminal liability or professional disciplinary action for any health care professional who acts in good faith compliance with the law.
Detractors of the practice of assisted suicide, or “patient choice at end of life,” as the bill’s senate sponsors call it, say that Vermont has pushed the envelope by removing requirements that once were supposed to restrict the practice to intimate, long-term doctor-patient relationships.
Vermont first legalized physician-assisted suicide in 2013, requiring multiple evaluations before a physician approved the request to dispense fatal medication for self-administration. Now, less than 10 years later, the requirement for a physician to examine a patient face-to-face prior to providing the drugs has been removed.
The bill also removes all uses of pronouns “he,” “she,” “his,” and “hers.”