Jun 02, 2013
Vermont recently approved historic legislation allowing aid in dying, sometimes referred to as “death with dignity.”
Its The Patient Choice at End of Life Act represents a tremendous advance for citizens of that state and the entire movement to expand end-of-life choice. Although widely covered in media on the East Coast, this important development received little attention in Hawaii.
Aid in dying allows terminally ill, mentally competent adult patients to request, and physicians to prescribe, life-ending medication when they their suffering unbearable to bring about a peaceful death.
Vermont is the first state to enact such a law legislatively. Oregon and Washington passed death-with-dig- nity acts by referendum, while the Montana Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that physicians there may provide aid in dying.
The new Vermont law, which the governor signed on May 20, contains provisions similar to Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act and policies in Hawaii. It follows Oregon’s model, but after three years, those requirements expire, at which time professional practice standards will prevail, as they do in Hawaii. More