On behalf of Patient Choices Vermont, we urge you to favorably consider S.1331/H.2246, An
Act Relative to End-of-Life Options.
Vermont has more than ten years of experience with medical aid in dying since our law (Act 39) was passed. We bring concrete experience of patients, families, doctors, hospice workers, and legislators to the table. We know you will hear many opinions from your constituents. We hope that the actual data and experience we are submitting will be considered seriously.
Massachusetts residents are seeking medical aid in dying in Vermont as we speak. In May
2023, Vermont removed the Vermont residency requirement from Act 39, so that patients can seek medical aid in dying regardless of their state of residence. Patients from Massachusetts have been among the first to come to Vermont.
Medical Aid in Dying Laws Work as Intended:
The bill you have before you is very similar to Vermont’s Act 39.
We are here to tell you that our aid in dying law works. It delivers one more important option
to people who are near the end of life while ensuring that medical aid in dying is used after
careful consideration only by those who qualify.
In the ten years since Vermont’s Act 39 was adopted, there has not been a single case of abuse or suspected misuse reported to the Vermont Department of Health (testimony before
legislative committee March 2023).
Massachusetts residents want this option. Since the removal of the residency requirement in
Vermont’s Act 39 in May 2023 PCV has received approximately 30 calls from Massachusetts
residents who are suffering from terminal illnesses and want the option of medical aid in dying. It is a poor second choice for them to travel multiple times to Vermont for this medical service, taking them away from their communities and support systems at home in Massachusetts.
We know you will hear from many people, some of whom will have fears and concerns. We are here to tell you that the bill you have in your hands is a proven model that addresses all those concerns.
From Dr. Diana Barnard: “I’m really proud to be part of a medical community in Vermont
where we believe in patient-centered care, the patient’s right to choose, and each individual’s
right to bodily autonomy. We recognize that medicine is different than it was a couple of
generations ago and people die differently today. We need tools to address the suffering that
sometimes comes with advanced treatments, extended life, and debilitation. The decision to
seek and use medical aid in dying always rests solely with the patient. It can be stopped
anywhere along the way. Two physicians are involved with every patient and must
independently evaluate the patient and determine that they have a terminal illness with a
prognosis of less than six months to live, that they are capable of understanding all their
options and making their own decisions, and that they can self-administer the medication. It is a common misperception that when people first get their terminal diagnosis they might do
something quickly. The reality is that patients want to live and they wait to consider medical
aid in dying. By the time they ingest the medication, all of my patients have been very sure of
At any given time, hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts residents have cancer and are living with the knowledge that end of life is approaching. They are thinking about the kind of life they want and the care they’d like to receive. If one of these people is your sister or your son or your parent, you know the challenges they face and how meaningful it would be to have the right to choose.
When you pass this bill, you will be giving a gift. That’s what people tell us in thank-you notes
from all over Vermont and now from other states. I sincerely hope that you will consult with
experienced doctors in CA, ME, VT, NJ and the other states that already provide this option to
their people. They will tell you how meaningful it is for people who are dying.
We would be happy to testify in person and to respond to any questions you may have. We
invite you to browse the videos and materials on the PCV website: www.PatientChoices.org.
We will leave you with this final quote from the son of a person who used aid in dying.
“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.”