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The Vermont House of Representatives voted against a proposal yesterday that would have made the state the second in the country to permit physician-assisted suicide, following Oregon. House members voted 82-63 against the measure euphemistically entitled “Patient Choice and Control at End of Life,” after a week of impassioned debate on the issue, the Associated Press reported.

The legislation would have made it legal for a doctor to assist a patient with a terminal illness to commit suicide by prescribe lethal medication. “In my view, (the bill) goes too far in enforcing one group’s preferences on the traditional values of others,” said Rep. Harvey Otterman.

Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas had opposed the assisted-suicide bill, saying while he supported the concept of death with dignity, he did not support doctor-assisted suicide.

“We need to make it dignified, we need to make it pain-free,” Douglas said prior to the debates. “But to empower physicians–who take an oath to alleviate pain and do no harm–to hasten death is a step in the wrong direction.” Deborah Lisi-Baker, director of the Vermont Center for Independent Living, agreed. “We know Vermont has a lot to do to increase access to hospice and palliative care, but we believe there are better ways to do it than the bill that was proposed,” Lisi-Baker said.

Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, said the vote was a significant encouragement to euthanasia opponents. “This represents an incredible victory for the good of our culture. The situation in Vermont didn’t look very good at first,” Schadenberg told

“Many people of goodwill got involved and went all out by contacting politicians, financing, and supporting the campaign in other ways. Thanks to Vermont, we can now be sure that through a common effort that it is possible to defeat the assisted suicide push everywhere.”

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[22March07, Gudrun Schultz,; 23Mar07, Montpelier, VT]