Patient Choices Vermont (PCV) is pleased to celebrate the settlement of a lawsuit filed last August challenging the constitutionality of the Vermont residency requirement in our medical-aid-in-dying law (Act 39). The settlement means that plaintiff Lynda Shannon Bluestein, a terminally ill cancer patient from Connecticut, will now have access to medical-aid-in-dying services in Vermont. The settlement further stipulates that Vermont officials will support removal of the residency requirement from the law.
Act 39, adopted in May 2013, enables terminally ill Vermonters who are capable of making their own medical decisions, to request and receive medication to bring about a hastened death at a time of their choosing. Act 39, like similar medical-aid-in-dying laws in other states, currently makes end-of-life choice only available to Vermont state residents.
The lawsuit was filed on August 25, 2022, by PCV Board Member Dr. Diana Barnard and her Connecticut patient Lynda Shannon Bluestein, in collaboration with Compassion & Choices.
Since 2013, PCV has worked to educate and expand the network of Vermont's medical providers who support terminally ill patients who want a choice at the end of life using Act 39.
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Patient Choices Vermont
PO Box 671
Shelburne, VT 05482
Brave Little State explores the complexities of medical aid in dying, broadcast live on Vermont Public
Josh Crane, reporter and producer for Brave Little State with Vermont Public says, "If you’re like me, you may not have realized Vermont is one of just 10 states with a Medical- Aid-in-Dying (MAiD) law on the books. Act 39, as it’s known here, passed in 2013. And there’s a bunch of criteria you must meet in order to use it, like being a Vermont resident over the age of 18 with a terminal illness."
When you are sick, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you will receive complete and accurate information about your illness and your options. On a recent Vermont Edition program on medical aid in dying, a caller related her mother’s story:
“My mom was in hospice for 18 months and it was long and arduous… after she died, I wanted to ask her doctor why that option (medical aid in dying) was not offered to her.”
We are very pleased to welcome Audrey Winograd to our team.
Audrey is a lawyer and hospice-trained medical social worker with experience in neurology, oncology, chronic disease, and end-of-life care. She holds a law degree from Rutgers University, a Masters in Organizational Development from the University of Pennsylvania and a Masters of Social work from the University of Vermont. Audrey brings 40 years of experience in the field of organizational and community work, personal empowerment and patient-centered care. As a medical psycho-therapist she empowers clients to enhance one’s lived experience today, while engaging in shared decision making for tomorrow.
On Thursday, August 25, 2022, Patient Choices Vermont (PCV) Board Member Dr. Diana Barnard, in collaboration with the national organization Compassion & Choices and Lynda Bluestein, a terminally ill Connecticut resident seeking medical aid in dying, filed a federal lawsuit to challenge the residency requirement contained in Vermont's Act 39. PCV applauds this work and stands ready to educate the public about the availability of medical aid in dying across state lines.
Like many Vermonters, I have been distraught over the U.S. Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe vs Wade. As a lawyer, I am keenly aware that this reversal of a half-century of legal precedent is tied to legal and political theories that pose broader threats to our rights to bodily autonomy.
We are pleased to announce that Senate Bill 74 was signed by the Governor today, marking an important milestone for Vermonters who value end-of-life choice. This bill, passed with strong tri-partisan support, updates and improves the state’s Patient Choice at End of Life Law, Act 39.
PRESS RELEASE: Vermont House Gives Preliminary Approval to Bill to Improve 2013 Medical Aid-in-Dying Law
SB 74, already approved by Senate, would make three critical improvements to Act 39
(April 13, 2022 - Montpelier, VT) Patient Choices Vermont and Compassion & Choices praised the Vermont House of Representatives for their preliminary approval Thursday of Senate Bill 74 to update and improve the state’s 2013 Patient Choice at End of Life Law, Act 39. The Vermont Senate passed the bill on a voice vote on Jan. 25.
We are pleased to announce that the Vermont House Committee on Human Services has scheduled a hearing on S.74 on Thursday, March 31 at 9:15 am. The Committee invited Dr. Diana Barnard; Kim Callinan, President of Compassion & Choices, and myself Betsy Walkerman, President of Patient Choices Vermont (PCV) to testify. We look forward to sharing our team's expertise with our legislators. You can listen live on March 31 or replay afterwards on the Vermont House Committee on Human Services YouTube Channel.
See below for how to contact your representatives.
Over the course of a few days, my mother, PCV co-founder Ginny Walters, said goodbye to family and friends, drifted off to sleep and died peacefully. She was 96.
Ginny’s extensive computing and organizational skills and her ability to write cogently and clearly were instrumental in launching and sustaining Patient Choices Vermont during the eleven-year legislative campaign from 2002 to 2013. While my father, Dick Walters, was the outspoken face of PCV, Ginny provided the backbone, editing the website, running a meticulous supporter database, coordinating volunteers and editing every piece of writing that went out the door. Even a few days before she died, Ginny was still sending me articles that she thought we could post on the PCV Facebook page.
Ginny was a physicist, one of the first women in the US to earn her PhD in this demanding science. If you’d like to learn more about her, Click Here for the website her family has created in her memory.
If you knew Ginny or worked on the campaign with her, and have a story to share, please go to the Add Your Story Here page on her website. Then check back to see memories other people have shared.
Ginny requested that if people were so inclined, donations be made in her honor to either Patient Choices Vermont or Planned Parenthood of NE.
Thanks so much for your participation as we carry forward the work launched by Dick and Ginny Walters.
Betsy Walkerman, President