Vt. health professionals planning next legal steps after decision on conscientious objection to providing suicide info
RUTLAND, Vt. – Vermont physicians and other health care workers who don’t want to offer suicide as a legitimate option to their patients say they are exploring their legal options in the wake of a federal court’s decision Wednesday to dismiss their lawsuit against Vermont officials in two state agencies.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys and ADF-allied attorney Michael Tierney represent the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Christian Medical and Dental Association, groups of medical professionals who wish to abide by their oath to “do no harm.”
“Vermont health care workers just want to act consistently with their reasonable and time-honored convictions without fear of government punishment,” said ADF Senior Counsel Steven H Aden, who argued before the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont in November of last year in Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare v. Hoser. “Because we believe they face a very real conflict in this situation, our clients are seriously considering all of their legal options.”
The state agencies, the Board of Medical Practice and the Office of Professional Regulation, are reading the state’s assisted suicide law to require health care professionals, regardless of their conscience or oath, to provide patients with information on doctor-prescribed death as an option. Although Act 39, Vermont’s assisted suicide bill, passed with a very limited protection for attending physicians who don’t wish to dispense death-inducing drugs themselves, state medical licensing authorities have construed a separate, existing mandate to counsel and refer for “all options” for palliative care to include a mandate that all patients hear about the “option” of assisted suicide.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
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