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H.347

Introduced by Representatives Sheltra of Derby, Lindgren of Springfield, Barney of Highgate, Brunelle of Winooski, Fyfe of Newport City, Gray of Barre Town, Houston of Ferrisburg, Howrigan of Fairfield, Knox of Northfield, Metzger of Milton, Peaslee of Guildhall, Pembroke of Bennington, Schiavone of Shelburne, Spaulding of Stowe and Willett of St. Albans City

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject: Crimes; homicide; assisted suicide

Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to make it a crime to cause or assist someone to commit suicide. It also provides for injunctive relief, civil damages and attorney’s fees for violating the criminal statute. Violation of the new statute will also be grounds for denial of a license if the person is a doctor, podiatrist, nurse, dentist, or pharmacist.

AN ACT RELATING TO CAUSING OR ASSISTING SUICIDE

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. 13 V.S.A. § 2312 is added to read:

§ 2312. DEFINITIONS

As used in this section and in sections 2313-2317 of this title:

(1) "Licensed health care professional" means a physician and surgeon, podiatrist, osteopath, osteopathic physician and surgeon, physician’s assistant, nurse, dentist, or pharmacist licensed by the state.

(2) "Suicide" means the act or instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally.

Sec. 2. 13 V.S.A. § 2313 is added to read:

§ 2313. CAUSING OR ASSISTING SUICIDE

(a) A person who knowingly by force or duress causes another person to commit or to attempt to commit suicide shall be imprisoned not more than 20 years or fined not more than $3,000.00.

(b) A person who, with the purpose of assisting another person to commit or to attempt to commit suicide, knowingly either:

(1) Provides the physical means by which another person commits or attempts to commit suicide, or

(2) Participates in a physical act by which another person commits or attempts to commit suicide,

shall be imprisoned not less than one year nor more than 15 years, fined not more than $3,000.00, or both.

Sec. 3. 13 V.S.A. § 2314 is added to read:

§ 2314. ACTS OR OMISSIONS NOT CONSIDERED ASSISTING SUICIDE

(a) A licensed health care professional who administers, prescribes, or dispenses medications or procedures to relieve another person’s pain or discomfort, even if the medication or procedure may hasten or increase the risk of death, does not violate section 2313 of this title unless the medications or procedures are knowingly administered, prescribed, or dispensed to cause death.

(b) Withholding or withdrawal of a life-sustaining procedure does not violate section 2313 of this title.

Sec. 4. 13 V.S.A. § 2315 is added to read:

§ 2315. INJUNCTIVE RELIEF

A cause of action for injunctive relief may be maintained against any person who is reasonably believed to be about to violate or who is in the course of violating section 2313 of this title by any person who is:

(1) the spouse, parent, child, or sibling of the person who would commit suicide;

(2) entitled to inherit from the person who would commit suicide;

(3) a health care provider of the person who would commit suicide; or

(4) a public official with appropriate jurisdiction to prosecute or enforce the laws of this state.

Sec. 5. 13 V.S.A. § 2316 is added to read:

§ 2316. CIVIL DAMAGES

A cause of action for civil damages against any person who violates or who attempts to violate section 2313 of this title may be maintained by any person given standing by section 2315 of this title for compensatory damages and exemplary damages, whether or not the plaintiff consented to or had prior knowledge of the violation or attempt.

Sec. 6. 13 V.S.A. § 2317 is added to read:

§ 2317. ATTORNEY’S FEES

Reasonable attorney’s fees shall be awarded to the prevailing plaintiff in a civil action brought pursuant to section 2315 or 2316 of this title.

Sec. 7. 26 V.S.A. § 1398 is amended to read:

§ 1398. REFUSAL OR REVOCATION OF LICENSES

The board may refuse to issue the licenses provided for in section 1391 of this title to persons who have been convicted of the practice of criminal abortion, or who, by false or fraudulent representations, have obtained or sought to obtain practice in their profession, or by false or fraudulent representations of their profession, have obtained or sought to obtain money or any other thing of value, or who assume names other than their own, or for assisting suicide in violation of section 2313 of Title 13 as established by any of the following: a copy of the record of criminal conviction or plea of guilty to a violation of section 2314 of Title 13; or a copy of the record of a judgment of contempt of court for violating an injunction issued under section 2315 of Title 13; or a copy of the record of ajudgment assessing damages under section 2316 of Title 13, or for any other immoral, unprofessional or dishonorable conduct. For like cause, or when a licensee has been admitted to a mental hospital or has become incompetent by reason of senility, the board may suspend or revoke any certificate issued by it. However, a certificate shall not be suspended, revoked or refused until the holder or applicant is given a hearing before the board. In the event of revocation, the holder of any certificate so revoked shall forthwith relinquish the same to the secretary of the board.

Sec. 8. 26 V.S.A. § 375(b) is amended to read:

(b) The following conduct by a licensed podiatrist constitutes unprofessional conduct. When that conduct is by an applicant or person who later becomes an applicant, it may constitute grounds for denial of licensure:

(1) fraudulent procuring or use of a license;

(2) occupational advertising which is intended or has a tendency to deceive the public;

(3) exercising undue influence on or taking improper advantage of a person using the individual's services, or promoting the sale of professional goods or services in a manner which exploits a person for the financial gain of the practitioner or of a third party;

(4) failing to comply with provisions of federal or state statutes or rules governing the profession;

(5) conviction of a crime related to the profession;

(6) conduct which evidences unfitness to practice the profession;

(7) assisting suicide in violation of section 2313 of Title 13 as established by any of the following:

(A) A copy of the record of criminal conviction or plea of guilty to a violation of section 2314 of Title 13.

(B) A copy of the record of a judgment of contempt of court for violating an injunction issued under section 2315 of Title 13.

(C) A copy of the record of a judgment assessing damages under section 2316 of Title 13.

Sec. 9. 26 V.S.A. § 1582(a) is amended to read:

(a) The board may deny an application for registration, licensure or relicensure; revoke or suspend any license to practice nursing issued by it; discipline or in other ways condition the practice of a registrant or licensee upon due notice and opportunity for hearing in compliance with the provisions of chapter 25 of Title 3, if the person:

(1) Has made or caused to be made a false, fraudulent or forged statement or representation in procuring or attempting to procure registration or renew a license to practice nursing;

(2) Whether or not committed in this state, has been convicted of a crime related to the practice of nursing or a felony which evinces an unfitness to practice nursing;

(3) Is unable to practice nursing competently by reason of any cause;

(4) Has wilfully or repeatedly violated any of the provisions of this chapter;

(5) Is habitually intemperate or is addicted to the use of habit-forming drugs;

(6) Has a mental, emotional or physical disability, the nature of which interferes with ability to practice nursing competently; *[or]*

(7) Engages in conduct of a character likely to deceive, defraud or harm the public; or

(8) Assist suicide in violation of section 2313 of Title 13 as established by any of the following:

(A) A copy of the record of criminal conviction or plea of guilty for a felony in violation of section 2314 of Title 13.

(B) A copy of the record of a judgment of contempt of court for violating an injunction issued under section 2315 of Title 13.

(C) A copy of the record of a judgment assessing damages under section 2316 of Title 13.

Sec. 10. 26 V.S.A. § 809 is amended to read:

§ 809. DISCIPLINARY PROCEEDINGS

(a) Grounds for discipline: The board may refuse to give an examination or issue a license to practice dentistry or dental hygiene, and may suspend or revoke any such license, or otherwise discipline a licensee, for any of the following reasons:

(1) fraudulent or deceptive procuring or use of a license or registration;

(2) advertising of dental business which is intended or has a tendency to deceive the public;

(3) conviction of a crime arising out of the practice of dentistry or dental hygiene;

(4) abandonment of a patient;

(5) addiction to narcotics, habitual drunkenness or rendering professional services to a patient if the dentist or hygienist is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs;

(6) promotion by a dentist or hygienist of the sale of drugs, devices, appliances or goods provided for a patient in a manner to exploit the patient for financial gain of the dentist or hygienist or selling, prescribing, giving away or administering drugs for other than legal and legitimate therapeutic purposes;

(7) immoral conduct of a dentist or hygienist in their respective practices;

(8) willfully making and filing false reports or records in the practice of a dentist or hygienist;

(9) willful omission to file or record, or willfully impeding or obstructing a filing or recording, or inducing another person to omit to file or record dental reports required by law;

(10) failure to furnish a copy of a patient's dental record to succeeding dentists or the patient upon proper request;

(11) solicitation of professional patronage by agents or persons, or profiting from the acts of those representing themselves to be agents of the licensed dentist or hygienist;

(12) division of fees or agreeing to split or divide the fees received for professional services for any person for bringing to or referring a patient;

(13) willful misrepresentation in treatments;

(14) practicing dentistry or dental hygiene with a dentist or hygienist who is not legally practicing within the state, or aiding or abetting such dentist or hygienist in the practice of dentistry or dental hygiene, except in accordance with this chapter and the rules of the board;

(15) gross and deceptive overcharging for professional services on repeated occasions, including filing of false statements for collection of fees for which services are not rendered;

(16) offering, undertaking or agreeing to practice by a secret method, procedure, treatment or medicine;

(17) consistent improper utilization of services;

(18) consistent use of unaccepted procedures which have a consistent detrimental effect upon patients;

(19) professional incompetency resulting from physical or mental impairment;

(20) permitting one's name, license or registration to be used by a person, group, or corporation when not actually in charge of or responsible for the treatment given;

(21) in the course of practice, gross failure to use and exercise on a particular occasion or the failure to use and exercise on repeated occasions, that degree of care, skill and proficiency which is commonly exercised by the ordinary skillful, careful and prudent dentist or dental hygienist engaged in similar practice under the same or similar conditions,

whether or not actual injury to a patient has occurred and whether or not committed within or without the state;

(22) practicing or maintaining a dental office in a manner so as to endanger the health or safety of the public;

(23) no licensed dentist may hold himself out to the public as being especially qualified in any branch of dentistry by announcing through the press, sign, card, spoken word, letterhead or printed matter, or any means of public advertising using such terms as "specialist", or inserting the name of the specialty, or using other phrases customarily used by qualified specialists that would imply to the public that he is so qualified, without first having met the educational standards set by the Commission on Accreditation of Dental and Dental Auxiliary Programs of the American Dental Association or without being eligible to take the A.D.A. approved certifying board in that specialty. This section shall not be construed as limiting or preventing a duly licensed and qualified dentist from performing, without being a specialist, dental acts or services to the public in any branch of dentistry;

(24) assisting suicide in violation of section 2313 of Title 13 as established by any of the following:

(A) A copy of the record of criminal conviction or plea of guilty for a felony in violation of section 2314 of Title 13.

(B) A copy of the record of a judgment of contempt of court for violating an injunction issued under section 2315 of Title 13.

(C) A copy of the record of a judgment assessing damages under section 2316 of Title 13.

(b) When a license is revoked, the revocation shall be recorded with the director of the office of professional regulation.

Sec. 11. 26 V.S.A. § 1842(b)(15) is added to read:

(15) Assisting suicide in violation of section 2313 of Title 13 as established by any of the following:

(A) A copy of the record of criminal conviction or plea of guilty for a felony in violation of section 2314 of Title 13.

(B) A copy of the record of a judgment of contempt of court for violating an injunction issued under section 2315 of Title 13.

(C) A copy of the record of a judgment assessing damages under section 2316 of Title 13.

Sec. 12. 26 V.S.A. § 2051 is amended to read:

§ 2051. UNPROFESSIONAL CONDUCT

The board of pharmacy may refuse to issue or renew, or may suspend, revoke or restrict the licenses of any person, pursuant to the procedures set forth in section 2052 of this title, upon one or more of the following grounds:

(1) Unprofessional conduct as that term is defined by the rules and regulations ofthe board;

(2) Incapacity of a nature that prevents a pharmacist from engaging in the practice of pharmacy with reasonable skill, competence and safety to the public;

(3) Fraud or intentional misrepresentation by a licensee in securing the issuance or renewal of a license;

(4) Engaging or aiding and abetting an individual to engage in the practice of pharmacy without a license or to falsely use the title of pharmacist; (5) Being found by the board to be in violation of any of the provisions of this chapter or rules and regulations adopted pursuant to this chapter;

(6) Fraudulent or deceptive procuring or use of a license;

(7) Wilfully making or filing false pharmacy reports or records in the practice of pharmacy, wilfully impeding or obstructing the proper making or filing of pharmacy reports or records, or wilfully failing to file the proper pharmacy report or record;

(8) Pharmacy advertising which is intended or has a tendency to deceive the public;

(9) Exercising undue influence on or taking improper advantage of a person using pharmacy services;

(10) Failing to make available, upon request of a person using pharmacy services, copies to succeeding health care professionals, institutions or pharmacies, of documents in the possession or under the control of the pharmacy, when those documents have been prepared for the person making use of the services;

(11) Assisting suicide in violation of section 2313 of Title 13 as established by anyof the following:

(A) A copy of the record of criminal conviction or plea of guilty for a felony in violation of section 2314 of Title 13.

(B) A copy of the record of a judgment of contempt of court for violating an injunction issued under section 2315 of Title 13. (C) A copy of the record of a judgment assessing damages under section 2316 of Title 13.

Sec. 13. EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage.