Senate approves bill to allow non-Vermonters to use aid in dying law
The Vermont Senate has approved legislation that would allow non-residents to seek life-ending medication from doctors in Vermont.
For the last 10 years, terminally ill Vermonters with less than six months to live have been able to request a prescription from doctors to hasten their deaths.
Forty states, however, still prohibit medical aid in dying. And Chittenden County Sen. Ginny Lyons said Tuesday that the ability to die at a time and place of one’s choosing should not be determined by zip code.
“There’s certainly no justification to put a residency requirement on end-of-life care and to distinguish this care as something other than health care,” Lyons said.
Last year, a 75-year-old Connecticut woman with terminal cancer sued the state of Vermont over the residency requirement in its aid-in-dying law, claiming the provision violated the equal protection clause in the U.S. Constitution.
The woman settled that suit in March after the state agreed to allow her to fill a life-ending prescription in Vermont. But Lyons noted Tuesday that medically assisted death is the only health care service in Vermont that has a residency requirement.
Lyons says out-of-state residents would have to go through the same rigorous process that Vermonters must navigate in order to obtain the prescription: Patients first need a diagnosis of a terminal illness with less than six months to live; they need to request the medication multiple times both orally and in writing; and they must be of sound mind, and able to administer the dose themselves.
Oregon is the only state that currently allows non-residents to participate in its aid-in-dying law.
The legislation received final approval in the Senate on Wednesday. It then heads for final approval in the House, which overwhelmingly approved a nearly identical version of the bill earlier this year.
Gov. Phil Scott has indicated he supports the measure.
Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.