Vermont advances bill allowing assisted suicide tourism

assisted suicide, suicide, euthanasia, voluntary assisted dying

Less than a year after Oregon removed residency requirements for assisted suicide, Vermont legislators are looking to follow suit.

The Vermont House Human Services (HHS) Committee approved a bill that would allow non-residents from out of state to undergo assisted suicide. The Vermont House passed the bill soon after, sending it to the Senate for approval. While 10 states allow assisted suicide, just Oregon — and potentially Vermont — allows those who don’t live in the state to be killed.

“Remove the residency requirement on enough states that have assisted suicide laws, and you’ve pretty much got the whole United States,” Mary Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right to Life, told the National Catholic Register. Yet Jessica Brumsted, vice chair of the Vermont HHS committee, told the Associated Press that she hopes the bill passes in case her parents or children move out of state, and feel the need to undergo assisted suicide.

“If someone was that sick in my family … living out of state, I’d like to think that they could come back and be in my home and go through this process with someone in my family,” she said.

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David Englander, Vermont’s senior policy and legal advisor for the Health Department, praised assisted suicide as well. “It’s important that we move to normalize this kind of care because it is both exceptional but also everyday,” he said.

A woman sued Vermont in September 2022 to have the residency requirement overturned. Lynda Bluestein, who lives in Connecticut, claimed that requiring someone to live in Vermont to undergo assisted suicide there violates the Equal Protection, Commerce, and Privileges and Immunities clauses of the U.S. Constitution. “We believe that the residency requirements in all medical-aid-in-dying laws, as currently constructed, are unconstitutional,” Amitai Heller, senior staff attorney for assisted suicide advocacy group Compassion & Choices, said at the time in interviews with local media.

Oregon, having already done away with state residency requirements, has reported concerning data regarding assisted suicide. While it’s often claimed that people choose assisted suicide to avoid a painful, prolonged death from a terminal illness, the state’s statistics show that nearly all people who were killed cited “losing autonomy” and “less able to engage in activities making life enjoyable” as their reasoning, at respectively 93% and 92%.

By allowing death tourism — in which non-residents travel to a state for the sole purpose of committing suicide, a dangerous precedent is set in which no doctor-patient relationship is necessary. Instead, people experiencing suicidal ideations can simply shop around until they find someone willing to rubber-stamp their request, rather than using a doctor familiar with their history who is more willing to provide the palliative care patients actually need.

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