These are the words that a grateful supporter used to describe her husband’s death with medical aid in dying. The couple’s minister, who was also present, described it as “a quiet natural moment.”
Patient Choices Vermont (PCV) never advocates for anyone to choose medical aid in dying. We advocate for your civil right to make that choice, to request the proper medication and to receive it. By sharing the stories of people who have used Act 39, we help others understand that medical aid in dying is peaceful and natural.
Over the past month, PCV board members and volunteers have been in Newport, Barre, Hanover, Putney, Brattleboro and Burlington giving presentations and listening. We heard from medical personnel who are just now receiving their first requests for aid in dying. We heard from hospice workers about how comforting their patients find it to know they can choose when to end their suffering from a terminal illness. We heard from young, healthy people that they are grateful to live in a state where aid in dying is legal. These ongoing statewide discussions about medical aid in dying also generate important dialogue about advance directives, patient decision-making and end-of-life care.
All this is happening because of your support in helping to establish Vermont’s Act 39, our medical aid in dying law, and because of our work together to provide education and facilitate access.
Despite our efforts, many Vermonters still do not know that Act 39 exists. Healthcare providers do not typically inform patients with a terminal illness about their legal rights to medical aid in dying—unless the patient asks. It is vital for all of us to continue the work of meeting in communities, educating medical professionals and supporting individuals who are learning about aid in dying for the first time.
The PatientChoices.org website provides the most comprehensive set of resources on medical aid in dying in Vermont. We are the only Vermont organization that provides hotline support to both doctors and patients. We frequently hear from PCV supporters like this Vermonter who confirms that our videos make a difference:
“I watched every video on the PCV website. It gave me great comfort and knowledge about what to expect as my husband and I navigated the Act 39 process.” -- C.H.
In addition to hosting educational sessions around region and PCV Resources online, in 2019 we:
A recent study by three UVM doctors confirms that most Vermont doctors want and need more education on Act 39. PCV is pleased to be cooperating with the UVM Dana Medical Library on our first 2020 program, a speakers’ panel for doctors and medical students.
A threat on the horizon:
At the national level, medical aid in dying is under serious attack. Senate Bill 1993, ironically called the Patient Rights Act, would make all state laws allowing medical aid in dying illegal. It's disappointing to see disability advocates adding fuel to the fire by claiming that safeguards contained in aid in dying laws are ineffective.
Our best defense against misinformation, biases and harmful legislation at the federal level is our own sound and sensitive use of the law in Vermont and in the other states that provide end-of-life choice. PCV’s work remains vital.
Every donation of any size is deeply appreciated and carefully managed. We campaign for your financial support only twice a year. Please visit our donation page where you will see several ways to provide your support, including stock donations or gifts in honor of anyone for whom end-of-life choice was important.
PCV is a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Your contributions are tax-deductible.
Please consider contributing $30, $60
...if you can $125, $500, or $1,000.
Or mail your contribution to:
Patient Choices Vermont
PO Box 671
Shelburne, VT 05482
Thank you so much for your dedicated support. As one supporter wrote, “Act 39 allows us to replace fear and uncertainty with a sense of calm, greater peace and comfort near the end of life. Thank you.”