Lynda Bluestein has terminal cancer and knows she’ll likely die soon, but until Tuesday, she didn’t know if she’d be able to choose how or when and whether her family, friends and dog would be with her when the time comes. The 75-year-old from Bridgeport, Connecticut, reached a settlement with the state of Vermont that will allow her to be the first non-resident to take advantage of its decade-old law that allows people who are terminally ill to end their own lives, provided she complies with other aspects of the law. Vermont is one of 10 states that allow medically assisted suicide, but only one, Oregon, allows non-residents to do it. Bluestein’s settlement and pending legislation that would remove Vermont’s residency requirement and offer a ray of hope to other terminally ill patients who want to control how and when they die but might not be able to cross the country to do so. Bluestein and Diana Barnard, a physician from Middlebury, sued Vermont last summer, claiming its residency requirement violates the Constitution’s commerce, equal protection, and privileges and immunities clauses. Barnard, who specializes in hospice and palliative care and who has patients from neighboring New York state, which, like Connecticut, doesn’t allow medically assisted suicide, lauded the settlement and called on the Vermont Legislature to repeal the residency requirement. The Vermont attorney general’s office said it was pleased to have reached an agreement.
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