According to the Vermont Department of Health, assisted suicide is available for those “suffering from an incurable and irreversible disease” that will end the patient’s life within six months.
After a doctor determines death is imminent, a patient must make an oral and written request for the lethal dosage. There must be two people over the age of 18 who sign the written request as witnesses to affirm that “the patient appeared to understand the nature of the document and to be free from duress or undue influence at the time the request was signed,” the law says.
Participation in assisted suicide by any physician, nurse, or pharmacist must be “completely voluntary,” according to the state’s Department of Health.
Burlington Bishop Christopher Coyne told CNA in a statement Wednesday that palliative care is the best way to help those who are suffering.
“While the Catholic Church believes in the sanctity of all life from conception to natural death, we also understand the necessity to alleviate the pain of those dealing with terminal illness. Palliative care provides relief from a variety of symptoms for people living with serious illnesses while addressing the spiritual and emotional concerns of individuals and their loved ones. This holistic care focuses on the whole person — mind, body, and spirit. Assisted suicide does not,” he said.
“In a society in which we are dealing with an epidemic of loneliness, we need to be with those who are often alone in their suffering. It is important to acknowledge the pain of the person who is suffering from a terminal illness. We must support them, care for them, and accompany them along their journey from life in this world into the next,” Coyne said.