Connecticut woman becomes first non-resident to use Vermont’s medical aid in dying law

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(NEW YORK) — A Connecticut woman will be the first non-resident of Vermont to use the state’s medical aid in dying law on Thursday morning, according to local reports.

Lynda Bluestein, a 76-year-old from Bridgeport, is suffering from terminal ovarian cancer and fallopian tube cancer. The five-year survival rate for these cancers is 31%, according to the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

Currently, there are nine other states aside from Vermont — California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Maine, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon and Washington — as well as the District of Columbia where medical aid in dying is legal.

Until recently, Oregon was the only state that allowed terminally ill non-residents to seek physician-assisted suicide after a ruling in 2022 that it was unconstitutional to deny medical aid in dying to those who didn’t live in Oregon.

Bluestein and a physician, Dr. Diana Barnard, sued Vermont in summer 2022 claiming its residency requirement violated Vermont’s state constitution.

“Ms. Bluestein has lived a happy and meaningful life and does not want to die,” the lawsuit reads. “Should her suffering become unbearable, however, she wishes to have the option of medical aid in dying available to her.”

She reached a settlement in March 2023 after the state waived the residency requirement for Bluestein, allowing her to access medical aid in dying in Vermont.

Shortly after, in May 2023, Vermont become the second state to remove a residency requirement from its law, permitting doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to any terminally ill patient who is aged 18 or older. The bill was signed by Gov. Phil Scott.

According to local reports, Bluestein is set to die by lethal injection at 10 a.m. ET.

In 2022, she told The Associated Press that she watched her mother die of cancer and didn’t want her children to experience the same thing.

“She said, ‘I never wanted you to see me like this,"” Bluestein said of her mother.

“I don’t want my children to see me like that, either. I’d like their last memories of me to be as strong as possible, to interact with them and not in an adult diaper curled up in a fetal position, drugged out of my mind,” she continued.

While medical aid in dying is still a point of contention for many, as of 2018, a Gallup poll found that 72% believe doctors should be able to help terminally ill patients die while a slim majority, 54%, believe it is morally acceptable.

 

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