Constitutional Challenge to Vermont’s residency requirement gives hope for North Carolinians

A constitutional challenge by a 75-year-old terminally-ill Bridgeport, Connectiut woman, Lynda Bluestein, and a Middlebury, Vt doctor specialising in hospice and palliative care, to the residency requirement of Vermont's Medical Aid in Dying law, could make all the difference for people in North Carolina.  The lawsuit, filed by lawyers for Compassion and Choices, reprises a successful effort earlier this year in Oregon, in which the residency requirement of that state's Death with Dignity Act was conceded to be a violation of the Constitution's Privilege and Immunities Clause.

As a result of the outcome in Gideonse v Brown, non-residents of Oregon can now legally travel to Oregon, qualify for the medication if terminally ill and mentally competent, and then use the medicine at the time and place of their choosing.  However, for someone terminally ill in NC, a cross country trip can be a daunting if not expensive undertaking.  Clearly, if Vermont were to abandon its residency requirement, as has Oregon, it would be immeasuably easier for North Carolinians in need to make the trip to a state in the same time zone and 2000 miles closer.

It is to be hoped that all 11 US jurisdcitions offering MAID services will eventually abandon their residency requirements, as inconsistent with Artilce 4 of the Constitution.  Currently, MAID is the only medical procedure which is circumscribed by state residency.