When Vermont’s medical-aid-in-dying law, Act 39 was created, legislators placed great weight on preventing its improper use. Now, with eight years of experience and zero reports of abuse, it’s time to listen to Vermont's terminally ill people, the ones the law was intended to serve, by making it less onerous for dying people to properly use Act 39.
Under PCV’s guidance, Senate Bill S.74 was introduced in February 2021 to make three important improvements to the law:
“Those 48 hours were a nightmare. Just the sheer emotional toll it took on my mother was so painful to watch.” —Duncan Allen-Burns, son of Dee Allen, who used aid in dying in 2020.
Duncan was referring to the mandatory 48-hour delay that all patients must endure after all other parts of the rigorous Act 39 approval process have been completed. This delay caused Dee Allen great fear that she would not be able to self-administer the medication by the time the 48 hours had passed.
“I could not wait to get through that timeline. Removal of that in-person requirement would be a huge relief.”— Karen Oelschlaeger.
The Act 39 process requires that two separate requests to use Act 39 be made at least 15 days apart — in the physical presence of the doctor. Karen Oelschlaeger was 37 years old and dying from stomach cancer. You can hear the pain and frustration in her voice on her video on PCV’s website as she describes the arduous process of traveling to required appointments.
Act 39 currently provides legal immunity only for doctors. Participation by supporting medical personnel and pharmacists would be more consistent and predictable if legal immunity were explicitly spelled out for everyone involved in the process.
The challenge before us now is to guide Senate Bill S.74 through both houses of the Vermont legislature during the 2022 session. We laid the groundwork in 2021.
You can help Act 39 patients avoid needless suffering.
Thousands of people benefit from our work!
Successful legislative action requires time, effort and, frankly, money.
Many thanks to all of you who have supported PCV’s work over the years. Thank you to those who send notes of encouragement and share stories. Thank you to those who make gifts in honor of dear friends. Thank you to those who give monthly. Thank you to our major donors who can afford and choose to give $1,000 or more to this important cause.
All donations speak to the strength of our community and commitment to this basic civil right.
Patient Choices Vermont is the only Vermont organization focused on the rights of people who seek medical aid in dying.
The best part of our work is seeing the impact we have at such a meaningful time of life.
“I couldn’t be more behind her decision, and that’s coming from a place of pure love.
We really appreciate the work that you are doing. We’re very thankful our mom was in a state where she got to choose the way she went out.” —Dee Allen’s son, Duncan
Patient Choices Vermont
PO Box 671
Shelburne, VT 05482