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Vermont Medical Society Recognizes Medical Aid in Dying in New Policy on End-of-Life Care

Adopts Neutral Stance on Medical Practice Authorized by 2013 State Law

Rebecca Thoman, M.D., C&C Campaign Manager for Doctors for Dignity

“Even when physicians use all the tools at hand to care for pain and suffering, a small number of patients still suffer,” says the new policy position posted on the Vermont Medical Society website at: bit.ly/2zJ2DQM. “Each of these patients is unique; each one of the patients will challenge the caregiver’s skills in the extreme; and each one’s care should be highly individualized and decided in private amongst the patient, physician and family. The Vermont Medical Society recognizes that medical aid in dying…is a legal option that could be made in the context of the physician-patient relationship.”

Vermont is among six states that have explicitly authorized medical aid in dying (California, Colorado Montana, Oregon, Washington) along with the District of Columbia. Collectively, these seven jurisdictions represent 18 percent of the nation’s population and have 40 years of combined experience with this end-of-life care option.

“We commend the Vermont Medical Society for recognizing medical aid in dying as a legitimate option for terminally ill adults to peacefully end unbearable suffering and for their commitment to ensuring that all Vermonters receive good, comprehensive palliative care,” said Rebecca Thoman, M.D., Campaign Manager for Doctors for Dignity for Compassion & Choices.

The Vermont Medical Society is among nine American Medical Association state chapters that have dropped their opposition to medical aid in dying and taken a neutral stance on the practice, including eight of them in the last two years. The others are the California Medical Association in 2015, Colorado Medical Society in 2016, Maryland State Medical Society in 2016, Medical Society of the District of Columbia in 2016, Maine Medical Association in 2017, Minnesota Medical Association in 2017, Nevada State Medical Association in 2017, and Oregon Medical Association in 1997.