Woman sues Vermont over assisted suicide restriction

  • BluesteinLynda Bluestein BluesteinLynda Bluestein

  • Lynda Bluestein is shown in Bridgeport, Conn. Lynda Bluestein, 75, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who has terminal fallopian tube cancer sued Vermont on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022 for allowing only its own residents to take advantage of a state law that lets people who are terminally ill end their own lives. (Lynda Bluestein via AP) Lynda Bluestein

Associated Press
Published: 8/27/2022 8:27:48 PM
Modified: 8/27/2022 8:27:34 PM

A Connecticut woman with cancer sued Vermont on Thursday for allowing only its own residents to take advantage of a state law that lets people who are terminally ill end their own lives.

Lynda Bluestein, 75, of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who has terminal fallopian tube cancer, and Dr. Diana Barnard, of Middlebury, Vermont, argue in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Burlington that Vermont’s residency requirement violates the U.S. Constitution.

The Vermont law allows physicians to prescribe lethal medication to state residents with an incurable illness that is expected to kill them within six months.

Bluestein said in an interview Thursday that she is not yet at the point where her life expectancy is less than six months, but that it is her third bout with cancer and she watched her mother die of the disease.

“She said, “I never wanted you to see me like this.’ I don’t want my children to see me like that, either,” she said. “I’d like their last memories of me to be as strong as possible, to interact with them and not in an adult diaper curled up in a fetal position, drugged out of my mind.”

Barnard said in the lawsuit that she would like to be able to offer the end-of-life option to her patients who live in New York. The two women have been advocates on the issue in New York and Connecticut, which currently have no laws in place to allow for medically assisted suicide.

The lawsuit — filed by the group Compassion and Choices, which describes itself as an organization that “expands options and empowers everyone to chart their end-of-life journey” — argues that the residency requirement violates the commerce, equal protection, and privileges and immunities clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

Bluestein and Barnard are asking the court to block enforcement of the residency provision.

Compassion and Choices says the Vermont lawsuit is the nation’s second to challenge residency requirements for such laws. Ten of the 11 jurisdictions nationwide that have authorized medical assistance to help people end their lives have a residency requirement, the group said.

The organization in March settled a similar lawsuit in Oregon that resulted in the suspension of the residency requirement in that state.

The office of Vermont Gov. Phil Scott referred questions to the attorney general’s office, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mary Beerworth, of the Vermont Right to Life Committee, which opposes assisted suicide, said that if the challenge is successful Vermont could become a destination for terminally ill people seeking to end their lives.




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