Thursday February 14, 2013

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) -- A sharply divided Vermont Senate has voted to advance a much-changed bill allowing doctors to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott broke a tie in favor of an amendment offered by Sens. Peter Galbraith and Robert Hartwell that strayed far from the original bill, but set up immunity for doctors and other caregivers involved in providing lethal medications to terminally ill patients who ask for it.

Galbraith argued that his amendment would accomplish the same goals that the underlying bill would, while not containing some provisions that drew the ire of opponents.

Backers of the underlying bill argued that the original version contained many more safeguards against possible abuses.

The bill comes up for final Senate action on Thursday, before moving to the House.