Doctors with a conscience in Vermont have won a partial victory in the battle over assisted suicide but it might not go far enough.
In 2013 a contentious doctor-assisted suicide bill (Act 39) was signed into law. It contains very slim protections for physicians who don't want to participate due to matters of conscience or religious belief.
Since then, the Vermont Board of Medical Practice and Office of Professional Regulation have constructed a mandate for medical industry workers to counsel patients considering assisted suicide or to refer patients when it is seen as an option.
Alliance Defending Freedom sued in federal court on behalf of the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and the Christian Medical & Dental Associations.
ADF senior counsel Steven H. Aden represented the two Vermont health professional groups.
“The court said in its decision that the law in question, Act 39, does not force doctors and nurses to counsel or refer for assisted suicide," Aden tells OneNewsNow. “That's a big win for the right of conscience. However, in a sort of a footnote, the court also said that under some circumstances conscientious doctors and nurses might have to give third-party information about assisted suicide if they are asked by a patient.”
Aden says that's something his clients won't do.
“Vermont health care workers just want to act consistently with their reasonable and time-honored convictions without fear of government punishment,” he says.
With ADF's assistance, the two medical groups are weighing their legal options, he says.