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Vermont’s Republican governor signs assisted-suicide measure

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, has signed a measure to remove the residency requirement from the state’s assisted-suicide law, according to the Associated Press.

Scott, who became governor in early 2017, won re-election during the state’s 2022 gubernatorial contest.

In order to qualify, patients seeking a lethal prescription to kill themselves must be expected to die within six months. “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed as authorizing a physician or any other person to end the life of a patient by lethal injection, mercy killing, or active euthanasia,” the state law says. “Actions taken pursuant to this chapter shall not be construed for any purpose as suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing, or statutory killing.”

While many will lament Vermont’s move to allow expanded access to lethal prescriptions, some are pleased with the development.

Cassandra Johnston, a 38-year-old New Yorker diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer, hailed the news as “life-changing,” according to the AP. “It gives me so much peace of mind to know that if I need that peaceful, compassionate option, it’s right next door,” she said. “And it’s life-changing for someone like me. It really is.”

Although the law previously required residency in Vermont, the AP reported earlier this year that a Connecticut woman reached an agreement with Vermont that would allow her to participate in assisted suicide.

“I was so relieved to hear about the settlement of my case that will allow me to decide when cancer has taken all I can handle,” said the 75-year-old woman, Lynda Bluestein, according to the outlet. “The importance of the peace of mind knowing that I will now face fewer obstacles to accessing autonomy, control and choice in this private, sacred and very personal decision about the end of my life is enormous” .

Compassion & Choices announced last year that it had filed the lawsuit on behalf of Bluestein and Dr. Diana Barnard of Vermont.

Bluestein is not done with his own life yet.

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