Vermont’s Republican governor signs bill to nix residency requirement for assisted suicide

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Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, has signed a measure to remove the residency requirement from the state’s assisted suicide law, according to the Associated Press.

Scott, who became governor in early 2017, won re-election during the state’s 2022 gubernatorial election contest.

In order to qualify, patients who wish to obtain a deadly prescription to kill themselves must be expected to die within six months. “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to authorize a physician or any other person to end a patient’s life by lethal injection, mercy killing, or active euthanasia,” state law reads. “Action taken in accordance with this chapter shall not be construed for any purpose to constitute suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing, or homicide under the law.”

While many will lament Vermont’s move to allow expanded access to lethal prescriptions, some are pleased by the developement.

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Cassandra Johnston, a 38-year-old from New York who has been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, hailed the news as “life-changing,” according to the AP. “It gives me such a peace of mind to know that if I need that peaceful and compassionate option that it’s right next door,” she said. “And it’s life-changing for someone like me. It really is.”

While the law had previously required Vermont residency, the AP reported earlier this year that a Connecticut woman arrived at a settlement with Vermont that will allow her to participate in assisted suicide.

“I was so relieved to hear of the settlement of my case that will allow me to decide when cancer has taken all from me that I can bear,” the 75-year-old woman, Lynda Bluestein, said, according to the outlet. “The importance of the peace of mind knowing that I will now face fewer obstacles in accessing the autonomy, control, and choice in this private, sacred and very personal decision about the end of my life is enormous.”

Compassion & Choices announced last year that it had filed the suit on behalf of Bluestein and Vermont Dr. Diana Barnard.

Bluestein has not yet ended her own life.

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