MONTPELIER, Vt. – After years of debate, Vermont became the fourth state in the country Monday to allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medicine to terminally ill patients seeking to end their lives.
Gov. Peter Shumlin signed the bill into law at a Statehouse ceremony even as opponents vowed to push for its repeal.
The End of Life Choices law was effective immediately, although it could be weeks before the state Health Department develops regulations in accordance with the new measure.
Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen said he expects doctors to write between 10 and 20 lethal prescriptions a year, with a smaller number of patients actually using the drugs.
He based his figures on the experience in Oregon, the first state to legalize assisted suicide in 1997. Washington state and Montana followed later, with Montana’s coming by way of a court order.
During emotionally charged discussion of the bill, opponents said the law could be abused and vulnerable people, especially the elderly, could be forced to end their lives.
Shumlin offered reassurances before signing the bill.
“This bill does not compel anyone to do anything that they don’t choose in sound mind to do,” he said.
Record-length python killed
MIAMI – Wildlife officials say a Burmese python nearly 19 feet long has been killed in South Florida.
It’s a new record for the longest Burmese python found in the wild in Florida. The previous record was a 17-foot-7-inch python caught in August in Everglades National Park.
According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the 18-foot-8-inch snake was caught May 11 alongside a road in rural Miami-Dade County.
Wildlife officials said Monday that a Miami man spotted about 3 feet of the snake sticking out of the roadside brush. He grabbed it and started dragging it into the open. When the snake began to wrap itself around his leg, he called to his friends for help and then used a knife to kill it.
The python weighed 128 pounds.
Burglars call 911 on selves, cops say
FRESNO, Calif. – Two California men were in custody on Monday after accidentally dialing 911 on a cellphone before breaking into a car, authorities said.
After the mistaken “pocket” call, a police dispatcher was able to hear a rambling, 35-minute conversation that went from trying to find a way to get drugs to breaking into a car.
“Get the bolt and give me the hammer just in case,” one man said, as the dispatcher heard the apparent smashing of a car window to get at drugs inside the vehicle, KXTV-TV reported, citing a tape of the call.
Fresno police arrested Nathan Teklemariam and Carson Rinehart, both 20, on May 9 for investigation of burglary, conspiracy to commit a crime and possession of stolen property, Sgt. Jaime Rios said.
It was not immediately clear if the suspects had entered a plea or had attorneys.
After the break-in, the dispatcher picked up clues about the destination of the men heard on the call and notified officers on duty. Within seconds, a squad car was on their trail.
“He’s right (expletive) behind me, dude!” one man was recorded saying. “Oh, he’s following me, dawg! … Wow, what did I do?”
The recording continued after the officer pulled them over.
Police found stolen items and placed the men under arrest.
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