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Vermont Offers Controversial Assisted Suicide to Out-of-State Residents

— May 10, 2023

Vermont follows Oregon in controversial move to offer assisted suicide to those in other states.

Assisted suicide has long been a topic of great debate. Some people feel that each individual should have the right to choose when their life ends, while others believe it is wrong to end any life prematurely. The debate centers around those with terminal illnesses – if someone has been formally diagnosed with a terminal illness, some states permit assisted suicide for those individuals to bring an end to their life on their terms. 

As of now, just ten of the fifty states permit assisted suicide in cases of terminal illness. That means that only residents of those states will have the option to get professional, medical help if they choose to take this path. Otherwise, people are often left to continue their lives against their wishes, or perhaps they wind up taking matters into their own hands. It is not permitted to travel to one of these states for the purposes of ending things, either — until now.

Previously, in Vermont, patients who wished to explore assisted suicide needed to be residents of the state. Now, with the change having been approved, this treatment option will be available to everyone. If someone lives in a state where assisted suicide is not legal, they won’t have to turn to behind-the-scenes alternatives for solutions – they’ll be able to consider heading to Vermont to work with healthcare professionals on this matter. 

Vermont Offers Controversial Assisted Suicide to Out-of-State Residents
Photo by Stéphane Bacrot from Pexels

Vermont is not the first state to make this change, as Oregon has already enacted similar rules. As long as such a small percentage of states continue to maintain their laws that hold assisted suicide as illegal, there will be ongoing demand in the few states that do allow medical professionals to offer this service. It’s certainly a tragic circumstance when a person finds themselves in this position, but it’s unlikely that the demand for the service is going to change anytime soon. 

There is a legal side of this issue that needs to be considered by the states that do deem it to be legal. A couple of individuals have challenged those states in court regarding their refusal to offer treatment just because these people live outside of the state’s borders. This is not an approach that would be taken in other areas of healthcare – for instance, if a pregnant woman is traveling and goes into labor, she wouldn’t be denied care to deliver the baby just because she doesn’t live in the state in question. So, some or all of the states that do allow assisted suicide may decide that opening it up to all individuals from any state could be preferred to fighting legal battles that they might not win in the end. 

It is up to each individual to determine how they feel about changes to laws like those governing medically assisted suicide. Now that Vermont has made this change, anyone from across the country will have the option of traveling to Vermont for this service, should they so choose. It is yet to be seen if other states – beyond Oregon, mentioned previously – go on to make this change and welcome others from outside their borders. 


Vermont Opens Its Assisted Suicide Laws to Out-of-State Residents

Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act (DWDA)

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