Shumlin would sign End of Life Choices bill

BRISTOL — Gov. Peter Shumlin on Monday boosted his education reform plans (See story, Page 1A), reiterated his support for a bill that would allow terminally ill Vermonters to end their own lives, and explained why he favors bringing the F-35 fighter jet to Burlington for use by the Vermont National Guard.

At a legislative lunch in Bristol and during an interview with the Addison Independent, the issues Shumlin discussed included:

•  Assisted death legislation. As the Addison Independent went to press on Wednesday, the Vermont Senate was in its second day of debating the so-called End of Life Choices bill that would allow terminally ill Vermonters to, in consultation with their physician, families and witnesses, voluntarily imbibe a fatal dose of a medication to hasten their death.

Shumlin said he will sign the bill if it comes to his desk. He said he found himself favoring such a proposal during a 2010 campaign stop in Ludlow after speaking with a woman recovering from ovarian cancer. He said the woman told him her main drive to stay alive was to take care of her husband — suffering at the time with advanced Parkinson’s Disease — but that she did not want to suffer through the intense pain of the final stages of ovarian cancer.

He said he could not argue with the woman’s request.

“You know, of all the things I worry about being governor of Vermont, what my death certificate says is not one of them,” Shumlin said. “I just think it is a compassionate choice to give older people, or those that aren’t so old who are dying from a debilitating disease.”

The legislation has elicited strong opinions on both sides of the issue, with opponents arguing the state should not be in the business of making it easier for patients to end their lives.

•  A proposal to bring the F-35 fighter jet to replace the current F-16s used by the Vermont Air National Guard at Burlington International Airport.

Supporters of the plane said it is needed to equip the Vermont Guard with the latest technology, and that it will bring more jobs to the state. Critics question the need for the new aircraft and the noise it will bring to those living near the airport.

Shumlin said he went to listen to an F-35s in operation. He said that in his judgment, the F-35 is no louder than the F-16, a jet that Shumlin called obsolete.

“If we don’t get the F-35, it will make the Vermont Air Guard obsolete, and I think that’s a huge mistake and a huge change we do not want,” he said.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.


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Addison County Independent