Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin signs end-of-life bill

May 21, 2013 at 9:12 AM

MONTPELIER, Vt., May 21 (UPI) -- Doctors may prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients under provisions of a bill signed into law by Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin.

When he signed the bill into law Monday, Shumlin became the first governor in the nation to sign a bill authorizing doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medicine for their terminally ill patients, the Brattleboro Reformer reported Tuesday.

He noted the Vermont Legislature was the first to approve an end-of-life bill. End-of-life laws in Oregon and Washington were approved by voter referendum.

Shumlin said he hopes the new law gives Vermont residents with grave illness "some peace of mind that they have this option."

Among other things, the law grants immunity to doctors who write prescriptions for lethal dosages and a requirement that a terminally ill patient make multiple requests for lethal medication.

Just before the signing ceremony at the Capitol, Shumlin told the Reformer he supports providing terminally ill patients "a choice on how they want to spend the last six or seven days of their lives."

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