General Information Packet
Vermont’s Governor signed the Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act less than two years ago, and stories of how it is benefiting Vermonters are now coming in. The aid-in-dying law in Vermont is gradually being implemented and the state’s Department of Health is monitoring its use. A total of 19 aid-in-dying prescriptions have been written under Act 39, and now family and friends of two Vermonters who took the medication have spoken publicly about the experience, characterizing it as peaceful. Certainly many more Vermonters have achieved comfort and peace of mind because of the law, and countless more will. C&C continues to educate the public and healthcare communities, and is actively working to protect this end-of-life option during the 2015 legislative session.
About the Vermont State Director
Linda Waite-Simpson served 6 years as Essex Junction’s representative to the Vermont House of Representatives and sat on the House Judiciary Committee. She was the committee’s voice on the floor as the Aid in Dying bill was working through the legislative process. She became Vermont State Director for Compassion & Choices in December of 2014 where she works to ensure that Vermont’s Act 39 is both meaningful and accessible to Vermonters, providing community education, staff training and outreach to physicians.
About Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act
The Patient Choice and Control at the End of Life Act (Act 39) was signed into law by Governor Peter Shumlin in May 2013. The law authorizes the practice of medical aid in dying for terminally ill, mentally capable adults who request from their physician and qualify for a prescription for life-ending medication.
To be eligible for medical aid in dying under Vermont’s law, an individual must be:
- An adult
- Terminally ill
- Given a prognosis of six months or less to live, and
- Mentally capable of making their own healthcare decisions
An individual must also be:
- A resident of Vermont
- Acting voluntarily
- Making an informed decision which includes being given information about all other end-of-life options
- Informed that s/he may choose to obtain the aid-in-dying drug, but not take it, and
- Capable of self-administering and ingesting the aid-in-dying drug
In addition to the requirements listed above, steps must be followed in order for a person to qualify for a prescription for aid-in-dying medication. The minimum length of time between requesting and receiving a prescription is between 17 days and requires at least two doctor visits. Therefore, it is important for individuals to talk to their doctors early to see if the doctor is willing to write a prescription. We encourage everyone to begin this conversation now. For more information on speaking to your doctor click here.
To see frequently asked questions click here.
For more information on the full range of end-of-life options visit the Compassion & Choices End of-Life-Information Center or follow the links below to access a copy of the Vermont Advance Directive.
For Health Care Providers
Compassion & Choices Vermont seeks to provide technical assistance to healthcare providers so they can more fully support their patients. The resources below provide detailed, current information on the clinical practice and forms suggested for use by the Department of Health.
Request a Speaker for a conference, in-service or continuing medical education.
The Compassion & Choices Doc2Doc line offers free, confidential telephone consultation with one of our seasoned medical directors, each with years of experience in end-of-life medical care including medical aid in dying. Call us anytime at 800.247.7421 or by email for information.
- Volunteer – There are many ways to get involved. Find out how you can help today!
- Attend an event – There are many exciting events happening about the state, and coming to a C&C event is a great way to connect with the community of volunteers and advocates in Vermont.
- Submit your story – Your voice matters and personal stories are the way to be heard. Your stories are a big part of our success in Vermont and can help us achieve even more across the country.
- Donate – Compassion & Choices relies on gifts from people like you to fund our important work. Please consider contributing today.
To learn how you can get involved with Compassion & Choices please contact, Vermont State Director at [email protected] or 802-881-3189