US News: Lynda Bluestein, a lifelong activist from Bridgeport, Connecticut, who battled terminal cancer, passed away in Vermont on Thursday, choosing to end her life on her own terms. Bluestein’s husband, Paul, described the event as “comfortable and peaceful,” as she took prescribed medication surrounded by her family.
Bluestein had been a fervent advocate for expanding access to Vermont’s law, allowing individuals with terminal illnesses the option to end their lives through lethal medication. Despite facing her own mortality, she spent years pushing for similar legislation in Connecticut and New York.
In an interview last year, Bluestein expressed her desire for agency over the timing of her death, preferring to be surrounded by loved ones rather than succumbing to a prolonged illness in a hospital bed. She emphasized the importance of having a meaningful death without unnecessary suffering.
Vermont’s law, in effect since 2013, permits physicians to prescribe lethal medication to those with an incurable illness expected to end their lives within six months. Bluestein’s advocacy led to a lawsuit filed by Compassion & Choices in 2022, challenging Vermont’s residency requirement. The state settled in March 2023, allowing Bluestein, a non-resident, to use the law for her peaceful passing.
Physician Diana Barnard, who joined Bluestein in the lawsuit, highlighted the need for broader access to such laws, expressing that the requirement to travel to Vermont for such decisions is not ideal.
Bluestein’s death marks a significant moment in the ongoing conversation surrounding assisted suicide. Vermont’s law, though progressive, continues to be a focal point for advocates seeking expanded access. Bluestein’s journey, from advocacy to legal action and eventual resolution, reflects the complexity of end-of-life decisions and the evolving landscape of assisted suicide laws in the United States.
As the debate on medical aid in dying continues, stories like Bluestein’s serve as a poignant reminder of the importance of individual choice and the ongoing need for compassionate and accessible end-of-life options.