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Connecticut patient sues Vermont over residency mandate in aid-in-dying law

Photographs of two women: one on the left of the frame smiles while looking at the camera wearing a blue-purple blouse and silver jewelry; in the right of the frame another woman white hair and dressed in black smiles at the camera with one hand under her chin and the other crossed on her table.
Barnard photo courtesy Carolyn Bates L. Photography
Dr. Diana Barnard, left, specializes in hospice and palliative care in Middlebury. She and Lynda Bluestein, a terminally ill cancer patient in Connecticut, are suing the state of Vermont to expand access to its medical aid in dying resources.

Live call-in discussion: A federal lawsuit filed in August aims to expand access to medical aid in dying in Vermont by including nonresidents.

A terminally ill cancer patient from Bridgeport, Conn., and a Middlebury doctor are suing Vermont to ease the law’s residency requirement.

Current law allows Vermont physicians to prescribe medication to residents with a terminal condition to be voluntarily self-administered for the purpose of hastening one's death. Since 2013, when it became legal, more than 100 Vermonters have requested this type of end-of-life care.

This hour, we’ll discuss the state's medical aid in dying law and how it has changed over the years. Earlier this year, lawmakers amended the law to allow patients to request life-ending medication using telemedicine, rather than requiring in-person appointments, among other changes.

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office said it received the complaint and is reviewing it, declining to comment further.

Our guests are:

  • Lynda Bluestein, a terminally ill cancer patient from Bridgeport, Conn., and a plaintiff in the lawsuit
  • Dr. Diana Barnard, specializes in hospice and palliative care in Middlebury
  • Ronald Shems, a partner of Tarrant, Gillies & Shems LLP in Montpelier, who is the local counsel in the case

Broadcast live at noon on Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022; rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or tweet us @vermontedition.

Connor Cyrus joined Vermont Public as host and senior producer in March 2021. He was a morning reporter at WJAR in Providence, Rhode Island. A graduate of Lyndon State College (now Northern Vermont University), he started his reporting career as an intern at WPTZ, later working for WAGM in Presque Isle, Maine, and WCAX Channel 3, where he covered a broad range of stories from Vermont’s dairy industry to the nurses’ strikes at UVM Medical Center. He’s passionate about journalism’s ability to shed light on complex or difficult topics, as well as giving voice to underrepresented communities.
Tedra joined Vermont Public as a producer for Vermont Edition in January 2022. Before moving to Vermont, she was a journalist in New York City for 20 years. She has a master’s degree in journalism from New York University.