Since 2013, 29 Vermonters Used 'Patient Choice At The End of Life' Law To Die

Dec 18, 2017

Twenty-nine people have used a lethal dose of medication prescribed by their doctors under Vermont's law that allows the terminally ill to end their own lives.

Vermont passed Act 39, the Patient Choice at the End of Life law, in 2013. The law allows doctors to prescribe the medication to a patient with a terminal condition.

Under the law, doctors are required to report back to the Department of Health when the terminal medication is prescribed.

In 2015, the Legislature asked the health department to issue a biennial statistical report and the first report was recently submitted to House and Senate health committees.

The report shows that Vermont doctors prescribed the lethal medication to 52 patients, but only 29 of those patients ended up using the medication to end their life.

Most of the remaining patients died from their underlying disease.

The summary is based on cases reported to the Health Department between May 31, 2013 and June 30, 2017.

According to the report 83 percent of the patients had cancer, 14 percent had ALS, and the rest asked for the medication for other causes.

Physician aid in dying is allowed in six states, including Vermont, as well as in Washington D.C.