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Vermont considers changes to its aid-in-dying law

On Wednesday January 12, Willem Jewett, the former majority leader of the Vermont House of Representatives, died. He used a prescription obtained through Act 39, a law that allows terminally ill Vermonters to take pharmaceutical drugs to end their lives.

Before he passed, he spoke with VTDigger about the law he worked on while in the Legislature. Nearly a decade ago, Jewett was instrumental in passing a Vermont law enabling terminally ill patients to end their lives. Now he said he’s found its restrictions on patients and providers — waiting periods, multiple in-person requests — to be obstructive and “completely meaningless.”

“If anyone wants to suggest that I, or anyone else who’s gotten to this stage, hasn’t thought long and deeply about this, and if they’ve made the request, hasn’t done it with information, or at the end of the day, conviction — they’re crazy,” Jewett said. “What do people think we do when we’re sick in bed?”

Therefore he suggest that Vermont lawmakers should consider changes to the state’s aid-in-dying law. Now, Jewett’s former colleagues are considering amending the law, known as Act 39, to make it easier to use.

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