Vermont Medical Society adopts neutral stance on medical aid-in-dying

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Vermont Medical Society adopts neutral stance on medical aid-in-dying

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 5:47am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Compassion & Choices is praising the Vermont Medical Society for dropping its 14-year opposition to doctors writing prescriptions for terminally ill adults who request medication to end unbearable suffering and die peacefully. The society posted a resolution recognizing medical aid in dying as a legal option that could be made within the doctor-patient relationship at its annual meeting earlier this month, 4-1/2 years after the state authorized medical aid in dying in May 2013 by passing the Patient Choice at End of Life Act (Act 39).

"Even when physicians use all the tools at hand to care for pain and suffering, a small number of patients still suffer," says the new policy position posted on the Vermont Medical Society website at: "Each of these patients is unique; each one of the patients will challenge the caregiver's skills in the extreme; and each one's care should be highly individualized and decided in private amongst the patient, physician and family. The Vermont Medical Society recognizes that medical aid in dying…is a legal option that could be made in the context of the physician-patient relationship."

Vermont is among six states that have explicitly authorized medical aid in dying (CaliforniaColoradoMontanaOregonWashington) along with the District of Columbia. Collectively, these seven jurisdictions represent 18 percent of the nation's population and have 40 years of combined experience with this end-of-life care option.

"We commend the Vermont Medical Society for recognizing medical aid in dying as a legitimate option for terminally ill adults to peacefully end unbearable suffering and for their commitment to ensuring that all Vermonters receive good, comprehensive palliative care," said Rebecca Thoman, M.D., Campaign Manager for Doctors for Dignity for Compassion & Choices.

The Vermont Medical Society is among nine American Medical Association state chapters that have dropped their opposition to medical aid in dying and taken a neutral stance on the practice, including eight of them in the last two years. The others are the California Medical Association in 2015, Colorado Medical Society in 2016Maryland State Medical Society in 2016Medical Society of the District of Columbia in 2016Maine Medical Association in 2017Minnesota Medical Association in 2017Nevada State Medical Association in 2017, and Oregon Medical Association in 1997.

Numerous national and state polls show strong support for medical aid in dying among both U.S. physicians and Americans across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum.

Compassion & Choices is the oldest nonprofit working to improve care and expand options for the end of life in the United States, with 450,000 supporters nationwide. For more information,

SOURCE MONTPELIER, Vt., Nov. 17, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Compassion & Choices