Politics

Terminally ill can now access medically assisted suicide in Vermont

Medically assisted suicide is now legal in Vermont for non-residents. Currently, 10 other states allow medically assisted suicide.

The Vermont State House stands on Feb. 14, 2023, in Montpelier, Vt.
The Vermont State House.
AP Photo/Lisa Rathke

Medically assisted suicide is now legal in Vermont for terminally ill non-residents, after Governor Phil Scott signed a bill to remove the residency requirement Tuesday.

This is a first in the country.

While Vermont is the first state to allow cross-state border travel for this by law, Oregon also stopped enforcing a residency requirement  for ill people to receive lethal medication.

Currently, 10 other states allow medically assisted suicide.

Lynda Shannon Bluestein, left, jams with her husband Paul in the living room of their home

Connecticut woman 1st non-Vermonter granted assisted suicide right

Lynda Bluestein, 75, reached a settlement with Vermont that will allow her to be the first nonresident to legally end their own life.

LEARN MORE

While critics claim this could turn states like Vermont into assisted suicide tourism destinations, supporters say there are strict protections. This includes making two verbal requests to your physician in a certain time frame, and submitting a written request that's signed with two or more witnesses.

Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of the Vermont Right to Life Committee, said in legislative committee testimony in March that the practice "was, and remains, a matter of contention," the Associated Press reported.

Beerworth added, "To be clear, Vermont Right to Life opposed the underlying concept behind assisted suicide and opposes the move to remove the residency requirement as there are still no safeguards that protect vulnerable patients from coercion."

Lynda Bluestein of Bridgeport, Connecticut said Tuesday that the change in Vermont means that so many other people in the Northeast can take advantage of the state’s law, the AP reported.

So who qualifies?

According to the signed bill, a physician has to determine a patient is  terminally ill, capable, and making an informed decision.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press