May 13, 2013
This is an historic day for the end-of-life choice movement both here in Vermont and across the nation.
Vermont has taken a huge step forward for the autonomy rights of terminally-ill patients.
We are the first state in the nation to approve a Death with Dignity law through legislative action and the first state in the eastern United States to open this important door.
This vote stands as a testament to the power of the citizen voice. While this bill is popular with the public at large, it is the activism of many bill supporters that reminds us of the powerful impact citizen voices have in Vermont.
Special thanks go to several current and former Vermont lawmakers.
Speaker Shap Smith’s steady hand and strong vision was a key guiding factor throughout this entire campaign.
Governor Peter Shumlin’s leadership and unwavering commitment to this change opened the door. Starting as Pro Tem of the Senate years ago, through his campaign for Governor and from day one in the Executive Office, Peter Shumlin provided reassurance and a beacon of hope to all that this change should and can happen.
Senator Claire Ayer’s courage, poise under pressure, and her unwillingness to give up truly made the difference. She fought to get this bill to the Senate floor and found a way to bring the key swing votes to the YES column.
House Committee Chairs Ann Pugh and Bill Lippert brought this bill forward in 2007 in the effort to show this issue was real and again in 2013 for this Victory. These Chairs brought positive core values, focus in action, scrutiny to the merits and resolve under fire to the Vermont democratic process.
Representatives Sandy Haas and Linda Waite-Simpson championed this legislation through the House with passion, tenacity, and an incredible depth of knowledge.
Senator Peter Galbraith emerged as a key swing vote on the issue in the Senate and his willingness to compromise during the final action on the bill proved pivotal.
The 2013 Victory would never have been in sight but for the early and long lasting support of key current and former lawmakers like Senators Diane Snelling, Richard McCormack, David Zuckerman, Jeanette White, Ginny Lyons and Matt Dunne and Representatives Kate Webb, Donna Sweaney, Michael Fisher, Willem Jewett, Tess Taylor, Bill Frank, Patsy French, Patti Komline, Malcolm Severance, Ernie Shand and the late Richard Hube.
Finally, we honor the dedication to the cause of autonomy and civil liberties given to this effort from iconic Vermont leaders including Lt. Governor Barbara Snelling, Governors Phil Hoff and Madeleine Kunin and the late Congressman Richard Mallary.