Expanding the Culture of Death in Vermont | Anne Hendershott | Catholic World Report
Why Vermont is low-hanging fruit for the abortion and assisted suicide lobbies
In a strongly worded statement decrying the legalization of assisted suicide in Vermont on May 20, 2013, the Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano, the bishop of Burlington, called his home state “one of the few Death States, where it is legal for life to be terminated both at its beginning and end stages.” While noting that the state “so rightly opposes the death penalty and the tragedies of war,” Bishop Matano accused Vermont’s legislators of sending a “confusing and conflicting message that undermines its stand for life.”
Bishop Matano’s statement pointed directly to the role that the Vermont state legislature played in bypassing the voters to enact the assisted suicide law. What Bishop Matano did not mention, however, was that Vermont’s lawmakers and courts began to create a culture of death in the state more than four decades ago. In 1972, a full year before the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing legal abortion in Roe v. Wade, the Vermont Supreme Court invalidated Vermont’s abortion statute in Beecham v. Leahy, finding it unconstitutional and therefore unenforceable.
The new “End-of-Life Choices” law, which allows doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication for self-administration by “terminally ill” patients, is just the latest in a long line of laws designed to remove protections for the most vulnerable—including the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly. And, although physician-assisted suicide has been legalized in Oregon, Washington, and Montana, Vermont is the first state to have such a law passed by the legislature without the input of voters or the courts.
Most of Vermont’s politicians appear to take pride in being the first state legislature to pass what they have defined as progressive laws.