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With just three weeks (hopefully) left before the end of the legislative session, our Senators and Representatives are hard at work finalizing bills in their committees and bringing them to the House and Senate for full debate. Here are updates about Medical Aid in Dying and Vermonter’s access to abortion.
Medical Aid in Dying
In 2013, Vermont passed a law that legalized Medical Aid in Dying (MAID). This allows a terminally ill, mentally competent, adult to self-administer a medication so they can be in control of their death. The law has numerous safeguards for the individual patient and their medical providers. I was a lead policy maker advocating for this legislation for ten years. I have heard firsthand from family members of MAID patients about the closure and relief it brought their loved ones and their extended family. To be able to say goodbye on their own terms and not have to suffer through the last days of a terminal illness was comforting to all involved.
This week, the Senate passed a bill which removes the state residency requirement from the law. MAID is the only healthcare in Vermont that currently requires in-state residency. This is an unnecessary barrier to patients receiving the highest quality care. I am pleased to see this progress, and I am glad to hear Governor Scott is likely to sign this bill.
In a recent newsletter I spoke about the ruling made by a federal judge in Texas to reverse the FDA’s approval on the common abortion pill mifepristone. Today, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling that will determine the immediate fate for millions of Americans and thousands of Vermonters regarding access to this proven safe and effective medication.
Today, S.37, a shield law for providers of abortion and gender affirming healthcare, passed the House (you can read more about the bill here). This included an amendment added by the Senate this week that would continue to allow Vermont providers to prescribe any abortion medication that was FDA approved prior to January 1st, 2023, regardless of supreme court ruling. As you can see from this photo, this issue is important to me and the vast majority of Vermonters. Abortion is healthcare.
“Ambassador for Democracy”
I regularly communicate that, in addition to my constitutional duties as Lt. Governor, I like to call myself an “Ambassador for Democracy.” Our political system can seem inaccessible, confusing, and complicated to people who have never engaged with it before. I work to demystify the process and teach people how they can best use their voices to advocate for the issues they care about.
Here are a few ways that you can engage with me and my office. Please know that while I try to accommodate as many meetings and requests as I can, my schedule often fills up quickly and I’m not always able to respond every time.
Stop by one of my open office coffee hours: Every other Friday during the legislative session, I host an open-door coffee hour for people to stop by and ask questions or talk about whatever is on your mind. The last one for this legislative session is May 5th from 8:30 to 10 am. Stay tuned for notices of events that I will be hosting across the state throughout the summer and fall.
Invite me to local events: I believe in meeting Vermonters where you are. If you are hosting an event, or are aware of community events in your area, please let me know. You can send my office an email with details and I’ll do my best to visit, meet with, and listen to you and your neighbors.
Set up a meeting: If you have a topic that you want to speak with me about with a group or 1:1, you can email my office and we will try to find time for a quick call or meeting. Whether you want to learn more about an issue, advocate for a bill, or learn about how to navigate the political system, I will do my best to accommodate and find time to meet with you. We can meet in person or remotely in order to make it easier for a group to attend.
Lt. Governor David Zuckerman