Join National Healthcare Decisions Day…Because Your Decisions Matter

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Nathan Kottkamp is the founder and chair of National Healthcare Decisions Day.

Please help us make history, again. April 16, 2010, will be the third annual National Healthcare Decisions Day. The inaugural event, which was formally recognized by Congress and numerous state and local governments, included participation by 76 of the most prominent national healthcare, religious, and legal associations and organizations. By the second year, we over 700 local and state organizations throughout the country also participated. At every level, the goal of this nationwide initiative is to ensure that all adults with decision-making capacity in America have both the information and the opportunity to communicate and document their future healthcare decisions. The first year’s results were impressive—over 750,000 people obtained resources to make their healthcare decisions known—but there remain millions of Americans to go.

While making healthcare decisions is often difficult in the best of circumstances, making decisions for others is even more complicated. Each of us has the ability to guide our healthcare providers and our loved ones about what we want. Advance directives give you the ability to document the types of healthcare you do and do not want, and to name an agent to speak for you if you cannot speak for yourself. As Terri Schiavo’s situation vividly revealed, having an advance directive can be valuable for all adults, regardless of current age or health status.

With the Patient Self-Determination Act of 1990, Congress affirmed the right of every citizen to set forth his or her future healthcare wishes in writing with an advance directive. Yet, various estimates suggest that only about 25% of all Americans have done so. Because advance directives can be created without a lawyer, for free, and relatively easily, this figure is astonishingly low. In recognition of this, National Healthcare Decisions Day strives to provide much-needed information to the public, reduce the number of tragedies that occur when a person’s wishes are unknown, and improve the ability of healthcare facilities and providers to offer informed and thoughtful guidance about advance healthcare planning to their patients.

Please visit NationalHealthcareDecisionsDay.org for a variety of free information (including free advance directives forms for every state) and tools to assist with thoughtful reflection on healthcare choices and ideas on how to get involved. Additionally, watch for events in your community honoring National Healthcare Decisions Day. Finally, please share this information with your loved ones and colleagues.

With healthcare, your decisions matter, however, others need to know your wishes to honor them. There are no wrong answers when thinking about healthcare choices and completing an advance directive. Please use April 16, 2010, to decide, discuss, and document your wishes, whatever they may be.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center



So You Want to Pass a Death with Dignity Law in Your State

The number one constituent question we get at the National Center is, “what do I need to do to pass a Death with Dignity law in my state?” The answer is never easy because enacting a Death with Dignity law through the legislative process or ballot initiative is a complex, time-intensive, and expensive endeavor.

In a legislative environment, lawmakers are afraid of legislation focused on death even though repeated polls show a majority of Americans support Death with Dignity laws. Ballot initiatives are costly and time-consuming, requiring years of background work and the engagement of expensive professional political advisors nearly every step of the way.

The unfortunate reality is, while there’s a lot of activity and momentum in the New England region, not every state is ready to move forward immediately with Death with Dignity policy reform.

There are, however, lots of things you can do in your own state to jumpstart momentum and engage others in your request to push for reform, and I’m writing a five-part blog post about different ways to begin the process of legislative engagement in your state. Today’s post is focused on identifying allies because one thing is certain: you cannot do this alone.

Before you start, you need to understand your own commitment, including time and resource restraints. To effectively engage legislators, you may need to make a two to three year commitment of at least five hours a week. That’s a big investment of your time! Asking yourself whether you want to make that sort of commitment is important, because you’ll be asking others to join you. If you’re not willing, nor able, to make a commitment of that magnitude, there are other things you can do. Making the decision to go forward as a catalyst for statewide reform should be made with much deliberation and consultation with your family and friends.

If you really want to work on pushing Death with Dignity policy reform into the public debate, you’ll need a group of allies who share your passion. Realistically, you’ll need five or six people willing to invest approximately ten hours a month in volunteer time with the issue. To find such dedicated people—those who will become your “inner circle” of confidantes—you may need to approach 25-30 (or even more) potential volunteers.

This process may seem daunting, but you’ll repeat it over and over again throughout the time you’re engaged with the issue. In politics, when you don’t have big money, you have to have people…and our movement is all about people. It’ll get easier the more you do it. And, there are two wonderful things you’ll uncover: there’s more support in your community for Death with Dignity than you realize and people have the most amazing (and sometimes, tragic) stories to share.

For the most part, you’ll want to have individual meetings with potential volunteers. In these earliest of days, public meetings are not your friend. Ask five friends to tea; ask another five to join you for happy hour. Talk to five people at your church or synagogue, on your bowling league, or at your fitness club. Listen to their stories, and see what happens. You’ll find an ally willing to do this work with you, and then another.

Drop me an email and let me know your progress, and enjoy the stories.

Next up: Engaging Allies and Learning the Issue

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

Demystifying Death: A Life Moment

Photo by Alex Dodd
Photo by Alex Dodd

Stacey Tinianov is a caffeine-powered working mama and shiny object follower, runner, suburban environmentalist, cyclist, breast cancer ass-kicker, and empowered patient advocate. Follow her on Twitter, @CoffeeMommy.

Several weeks ago, my almost 13-year old daughter sat in the backseat as I drove her to a sports activity. Frequently, as she nears her teen years, this drive time is spent in silent meditation (aka: ignoring Mom’s questions about the day) but occasionally, we sing along together to the radio.

Without exception, my favorite days are the days she peppers me with questions that instigate an open dialogue.

“What do you think happens when you die?” she asked as if she were asking what we were having for dinner.

“What do you think happens?” I asked back immediately. The verbal sidestep is a typical mom move designed to create the opportunity to hear her untainted view as well as give myself time to think about my own answer.

She was patently unmoved by my attempt to deflect.

“I asked you your opinion,” she deadpanned and we locked eyes in the rearview mirror.

“Well,” I stammered thoughtfully, “I don’t exactly know.”

It wasn’t as if I hadn’t given a great deal of thought about the process of dying and what comes after death. We have said goodbye to several close friends and family members recently and the topic has been at the top of my mind.

“Some people believe in an afterlife, some people believe in reincarnation, some people believe that dead is dead and life is simply over,” I paused. “I suppose that since energy can neither be created nor destroyed, I believe our spirits live on in some way shape and form. Maybe as energy in a star.”

I anticipated a flurry of questions related to the loved ones who have died in the past six months but none came. Instead, my daughter regaled me with her opinions on death and dying. She was intent on explaining her fear of death is not exactly a fear of death and what comes or doesn’t come next, but a fear of missing out. Fear of not being ready to be finished with life.

“I mean I cannot imagine just not being here. I just have so much to do,” she clarified.

I smiled hearing my daughter discuss death with profound honesty and without a trace of sadness. I smiled not simply because we were having an open conversation about a topic long swept under the rug but because in the context of demystifying death, my daughter and I were sharing a life moment.

This week, I’ll lead the #DWDchat discussion on Twitter to discuss our thoughts and fears about death, how they may have changed over time, and how we bring these up with loved ones. Please join us on Thursday at 7:00pm EDT to share your thoughts.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

Russian Funerals: Black Bread and Vodka

Funeral for Mikhail Kalashnikov
Funeral for Mikhail Kalashnikov

Irina Jordan is the owner of Artisurn—online marketplace of handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes. Connector. Optimist. Avid reader.

If you caught some of the funeral coverage of the famous Russian weapons designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, you may have wondered how funerals in Russia might be different from those in your country. There are quite a few similarities but also some unique differences thanks to Russia’s rich historical heritage and culture interlaced with superstitions.

During the time of the Soviet Union (1917-1991), state funerals of the most senior political and military leaders were staged as massive events with millions of mourners all over the USSR. The ceremonies held after the deaths of Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and other General Secretaries followed the same process. They took place in Moscow where they began with a public viewing of the deceased in the House of the Unions and ended with an interment at the Red Square.

I vividly remember as a child taking turns at school to stand by a black draped portrait of a deceased political leader to pay him respects with somber music playing throughout my school. I still have an aversion to red carnations that accompany political funerals in Russia.

The re-emergence of religion after the collapse of the USSR made a big impact on Russian funeral traditions. Nowadays, Orthodox church bells ring high to low note series for funerals. Funerals are generally held on the third day after someone dies. On that day, family and friends gather for a special memorial dinner. On the ninth day, when the soul is believed to leave the body, a special church service and dinner are held. On the 40th day, the soul is said to depart for the other world, and a service and dinner party are held again.

At each party, a glass of vodka covered by a piece of black bread is left for the deceased, a reversal of the traditional Russian custom of breaking black bread when meeting someone for the first time.

Mourners are expected to wear dark, formal clothing. Wearing black clothing is a ritual established to prevent the dead from returning. Mourners bring or send only an even number of flowers.

If mourners visit the grieving family before the service, tradition requires them to say, “may their memory be eternal,” or “their memory will be forever with us, in our hearts and prayers.” In addition, making contributions to a church or offering help to the family members is appropriate. During the actual services, mourners usually stand to honor deceased and pay respects to the family. Visitations take place at a funeral home or special hospital facility. Funerals are typically open casket and all participating men do not cover their heads.

Both members and non-members of the Russian Orthodox faith are expected to bow in front of the casket and kiss a special ribbon resting on the deceased forehead. Later, at the internment, each mourner places a flower on the casket and, after it’s lowered, drops a few palms of dirt on top. Afterward, family and friends head to a restaurant, church hall, or private home for what is customarily called a memorial dinner or mercy meal.

Rituals are incorporated in the mourning process and include covering mirrors, stopping watches, and removing a TV from the room where the body lies in wait. Superstitious the dead will return to their home and take someone with them, when the body is carried away from the home for burial, the deceased is carried with legs extended forward and done so no part of the body touches the house on the way out. When the body is removed, people sit in the chairs or on tables that held the coffin before turning them over for a length of time.

Russian funeral traditions are still evolving, especially with a rising popularity of cremation, but many of the fundamentals remain to this day.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

CT Lawmakers Hear Support for Death with Dignity

Attorney General George Jepsen, photo by Hugh McQuaid
Attorney General George Jepsen, photo by Hugh McQuaid

Connecticut lawmakers heard public testimony about a Death with Dignity bill before the joint Public Health Committee yesterday. Dozens of people—residents of the state, Connecticut officials, and lawmakers from nearby Vermont—showed up at the State House and over 400 people submitted written statements to share their thoughts about House Bill 5326.

Julie Dimmock, a retired nurse, shared her experience caring for people who were dying. From her testimony reported in the Norwich Bulletin:

Sometimes hospice is able to control people’s pain; other times they are not able to. When a person is deemed terminal with no chance of recovery, then I believe that person has the right to die as he wishes. It is not up to the medical profession to prolong the painful, imminent death of a patient. Who gave the doctor the right to choose what he wants, not what the patient wants? Supporting HB 5326 is the right thing to do.

CT News Junkie reported Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen stated, “I believe it is cruel and inhumane to force an otherwise competent adult against their will to stay alive.” Speaking more broadly about Death with Dignity, he added, “This happens all the time but it happens in the dark and all the issues that you raise pursuant to coercion are swept under the rug. It would be much better and far more sensitive to bring it to the spotlight where there is an orderly process.”

Connecticut Comptroller Kevin Lembo told the committee he’d want the choice for himself if he had a terminal illness. Again reported in CT News Junkie:

“Whether or not I exercise my choice in the case of some future terminal illness would be decided by me with my family and my physician,” he said. “I hope that we can agree that no one party can impose their beliefs and positions on another. Careful construction of this law protects every individual from participation.” Lembo cited statistics from Oregon where 1,050 people had prescriptions for lethal medication written since the law went into effect. Not all of them opted to take their lives with that medication. He said 673 people have died from ingesting the medication in Oregon. “It’s clear that having the option, having the choice and having the medication is sometimes enough to help us weather any suffering.”

Committee members even heard from lawmakers in Vermont who recently grappled with and passed Death with Dignity legislation. Vermont Representative Linda Waite-Simpson worked to put her Connecticut counterparts minds at ease and, according to the Hartford Courant, urged them “to be courageous” and enact protections “for patients, for health care workers and for family and friends of the terminally ill who simply want the option of choosing the time and place of their death.”

Learn more about the public hearing on Connecticut’s public radio affiliate, WNPR, and keep checking our blog for the latest updates on this important effort to advance Death with Dignity policy reform in Connecticut.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

Dying to Give Back to the Earth

Greensprings is located in New York's Finger Lakes region
Greensprings is located in New York’s Finger Lakes region

Hunter Marshall is a hospice nurse, advocate for the right of Death with Dignity, and environmental activist from the Pacific Northwest. This article was originally published on Waging Nonviolence and appears here courtesy of a Creative Commons license.

I met with Jean shortly after she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. As I approached her home for the first time, I was greeted by voluminous blue barrels at the bases of the gutters collecting rainwater from a passing storm. An attached hose snaked outwards towards a garden burgeoning into spring. She welcomed me inside with a warm smile that offset the cool air in her minimally-heated home. As a visiting nurse, I actively observe patients’ homes with an eye towards safety and functionality. Jean’s home, outside and in, was a testament to the more than 50 years she spent as an environmental activist.

Displaying a subtle yet undeniable eccentricity so common in activists, she served sparkling cider in champagne glasses while we discussed her end-of-life arrangements. Unsurprisingly, she wanted to die just as she had lived: green. So after a life of environmental stewardship, she was met with the daunting task of choosing how to most sustainably return her body to the earth.

The funeral industry is, by and large, a $20 billion for-profit enterprise, whose environmental impact has been greatly overlooked. This is understandable, given that those making end-of-life arrangements are frequently grappling with loss, which can monopolize one’s attention. Nevertheless, it is estimated that each year 30 million board feet of chemically-treated hardwood, 827,000 gallons of carcinogenic embalming fluid, and thousands of tons of concrete, steel, copper and bronze are buried along with the bodies of the departed. Not only is this a colossal waste of resources—a typical 10-acre cemetery has enough wood in the form of caskets to construct 40 houses—but there are also concerns about the pollution of groundwater near cemeteries. Formaldehyde, a major constituent of embalming fluid, has been proven to increase the cancer risk among those with high levels of exposure. Exacerbating things further is the fact that the use of these types of wood is largely unsustainable, with some caskets being sourced from endangered mahogany.

While cremation would seem to provide an appealing alternative, the carbon footprint and release of vaporized mercury (from the fillings in people’s teeth) still leave much to be desired. It is estimated that each year in the United States 600 pounds of mercury, among other pollutants such as dioxin, are released as a result of cremation. Legislative attempts to mandate that all crematoriums install filters that act to reduce emissions have been successfully blocked by industry groups in a number of different states. Currently, the Environmental Protection Agency does not regulate crematoriums.

Fortunately, eco-friendly, or green burials, are on the rise and offer an alternative to the financially expensive and environmentally costly conventional burial. In 2008, there were only a dozen eco-friendly burial providers. That number has since grown to 300 and shows no sign of slowing. A green burial is much like a conventional burial, but without the detrimental impact on the environment. For open-casket funerals, the body can be preserved for display using either dry ice or non-toxic and biodegradable embalming fluids. Rather than a casket made of unsustainable wood treated with chemicals, individuals have the option of either a simple burial shroud, or a casket with non-treated wood.

Standards have been developed to define what constitutes a green burial in order to thwart greenwashing, where the environmental benefits of a product or service are exaggerated to capitalize off of the public’s growing concern for the earth. This acts to empower people to make consumer choices that reflect their ethical and moral values. The standards are set and maintained by the Green Burial Council, which describes itself as “a nonprofit organization working to encourage environmentally sustainable death care and the use of burial as a new means of protecting natural areas.” To ensure continued compliance with these standards, the Green Burial Council continuously assesses the environmental practices of the companies and products that earn eco-certification. Furthermore, since the many ways in which a body can be returned to the earth have varying impacts on the environment, there are a number of designations under the eco-certification umbrella for burial grounds and products that range from having a neutral environmental impact to a positive one.

For Jean, however, simply minimizing her impact on the environment was not enough. Having utilized nonviolent direct action to protect local waterways from contamination, her zeal for protecting the environment led her to look for a way of turning her death into an act that would have a positive impact on the environment.

Jean—like an increasing number of people—was able to choose what the Green Burial Council terms a conservation burial ground. To receive this designation, Green Burial Council standards require that all burial grounds be “owned by, or operated in conjunction with a government agency or a nonprofit conservation organization,” whose goal is conservation. Conservation burial grounds, in effect, intend to transform cemeteries into nature preserves located in environmentally sensitive areas.

Here, one will find no acres of manicured lawns reminiscent of a golf course, but rather vast natural landscapes. At burial sites there are no plastic flowers or roses, but instead plants and flowers indigenous to the surrounding ecosystem. In a nod to sustainability, an additional requirement of the Green Burial Council is that 5 percent of the cost of the burial plot be allotted for an endowment to ensure the integrity of the land into the indefinite future. This might be thought of as a sort of posthumous occupation with the intent of protecting the most environmentally vulnerable areas from development or destruction.

When Jean died—only a few months after we had met—she left behind not only a legacy of beneficence, but an endowment geared towards educating and inspiring a new generation to continue her work of protecting wetlands. Throughout her life, Jean was a staunch advocate for Mother Nature. And thanks to the growing availability of green burials, Jean’s final act of returning her body to the earth was one that will continue her life’s work of environmental stewardship.

As Jean walked me to the door of her home that afternoon, I asked, “What advice would you give to the next generation of environmental activists?” She responded simply, “When you witness an injustice, do something.”

For Jean, that motto carried through to the very end, where she took a stand against the injustice of an unsustainable industry bent on profiting off her death by choosing instead to contribute to what she believed in most: life.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

Honor Your Loved Ones by Facing Your Fears and Pursuing Your Passions

Irina Jordan
Irina Jordan

Irina Jordan is the owner of Artisurn—online marketplace of handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes. Connector. Optimist. Avid reader.

I got the dreaded call in the middle of the night; my mom told me my brother was a victim of a burglary in his apartment. He was only 22 years old. Since then, I’ve been haunted by memories of him and our times together.

He was a headstrong and charismatic guy who knew how to persuade others—including me—to do what he wanted and believed in: good and bad. He would’ve made an excellent leader in any professional field.

Memories, both bitter and sweet, tend to sneak up on me at unexpected moments and leave me turning them over and over in my mind. I have a Russian artist’s seascape painting from my brother’s apartment hanging in my house and it’s a constant and symbolic reminder of my own mortality. My brother lived his life to the fullest, and to honor it, I’ve been on a quest to face my fears and pursue my passions.

One of my major breakthroughs was leaving a corporate world and starting my own business. I was scared of letting go of a stable and predictable environment to jump into something quite unpredictable where luck and timing play a big role. That was until last year when I lost a close family friend unexpectedly, and that triggered all the memories of my brother’s untimely and tragic passing. That was the final push which nudged me into launching Artisurn—my ode to my loved ones.

It was founded on the premise everyone deserves a lovingly handcrafted memorial vessel to help on a grieving journey. I want people to celebrate the life of a loved one or beloved pet by finding a perfect one-of-a-kind memorial item they can proudly display in their homes or wear close to their heart.

Artisurn’s empowered me to let my fears go and embrace my ability to make things happen. I often wake up before dawn to sneak in a few hours of work before the kids are up and stay up late after kids go to bed to get the word out and emotionally connect with people. I’m passionate about my vision and excited for what the future holds.

I’m truly honoring my brother’s and friend’s memories. Each morning when I mediate and give my thanks, I send my Namaste to my brother and my friend, and it makes me whole again.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

Honor Your Loved by Facing Your Fears and Pursuing Your Passions

Irina Jordan
Irina Jordan

Irina Jordan is the owner of Artisurn—online marketplace of handcrafted cremation urns, jewelry and keepsakes. Connector. Optimist. Avid reader.

I got the dreaded call in the middle of the night; my mom told me my brother was a victim of a burglary in his apartment. He was only 22 years old. Since then, I’ve been haunted by memories of him and our times together.

He was a headstrong and charismatic guy who knew how to persuade others—including me—to do what he wanted and believed in: good and bad. He would’ve made an excellent leader in any professional field.

Memories, both bitter and sweet, tend to sneak up on me at unexpected moments and leave me turning them over and over in my mind. I have a Russian artist’s seascape painting from my brother’s apartment hanging in my house and it’s a constant and symbolic reminder of my own mortality. My brother lived his life to the fullest, and to honor it, I’ve been on a quest to face my fears and pursue my passions.

One of my major breakthroughs was leaving a corporate world and starting my own business. I was scared of letting go of a stable and predictable environment to jump into something quite unpredictable where luck and timing play a big role. That was until last year when I lost a close family friend unexpectedly, and that triggered all the memories of my brother’s untimely and tragic passing. That was the final push which nudged me into launching Artisurn—my ode to my loved ones.

It was founded on the premise everyone deserves a lovingly handcrafted memorial vessel to help on a grieving journey. I want people to celebrate the life of a loved one or beloved pet by finding a perfect one-of-a-kind memorial item they can proudly display in their homes or wear close to their heart.

Artisurn’s empowered me to let my fears go and embrace my ability to make things happen. I often wake up before dawn to sneak in a few hours of work before the kids are up and stay up late after kids go to bed to get the word out and emotionally connect with people. I’m passionate about my vision and excited for what the future holds.

I’m truly honoring my brother’s and friend’s memories. Each morning when I mediate and give my thanks, I send my Namaste to my brother and my friend, and it makes me whole again.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

Momentum from Coast to Coast

“In all likelihood, with all the momentum built during the Vermont and Massachusetts efforts, the next states to achieve Death with Dignity policy reform will be in the movement’s current center of activity—New England.”

- Peg Sandeen, Executive Director
Death with Dignity National Center
American Society on Aging’s publication Aging Today.

Peg’s article in the November/December issue of Aging Today (and published online in January) offered a look at where the debate over end-of-life healthcare policy reform is heating up: the Northeast. Much of this is tied to the increased awareness and understanding of Death with Dignity laws resulting from the recent near victory in Massachusetts and last year’s historic achievement in Vermont.

Legislative sessions are back in full swing in most states, and already Death with Dignity bills are being proposed anew or carried over if they were still active. I track these bills throughout the year, and you can stay up-to-date by visiting our legislative tracking page.

Some highlights:

  • New Jersey Assemblyman Burzichelli reintroduced the proposed New Jersey Death with Dignity Act, and his counterparts in the State Senate reintroduced the matching bill for consideration in their chamber.
  • New Hampshire representatives introduced a new bill emulating our model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
  • Massachusetts lawmakers are keeping the conversation about Death with Dignity laws alive by carrying over the Death with Dignity bill introduced last year. The joint committee where it resides heard testimony about the bill in December.

These are fantastic steps toward advancing Death with Dignity laws! As Peg talked about in the Aging Today article, achieving end-of-life healthcare policy reform is a long journey accomplished with the help of many supporters. In the article Peg, explained the long road and critical grassroots organizing which led to victory in Vermont:

Vermont’s effort began in 2002 as a partnership between the Death with Dignity National Center and a group of grassroots activists. The local group, Patient Choices Vermont, evolved into a fully functioning organization capable of shepherding the bill into law. An active and engaged local group is part of the calculus necessary for success in enacting this type of legislation. Both Washington and Oregon, which have similar legislation, had a local group of concerned citizens committed to offering terminally ill patients a choice about the timing and manner of their impending deaths.

With momentum building on both coasts, it’s a matter of perseverance and time before all terminally ill Americans will have the option to control the manner and timing of their own deaths. With your support, we’ll be there every step of the way!

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

Barbara Mancini Case Dismissed

Barbara Mancini
Barbara Mancini, photo by Nick Meyer

This week, an absurd case against a grieving daughter finally came to an end. On the one year anniversary of her father’s death, Barbara Mancini learned Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline Russell dismissed Pennsylvania Attorney General’s case against her.

Judge Russell minced no words in taking the State to task in her 47 page opinion about why she dismissed the case. According to a story in Philly.com:

“A jury may not receive a case where it must rely on conjecture to reach a verdict.” The case “would not warrant submission to a jury due to the lack of competent evidence,” she continued, adding that “the commonwealth’s reliance on speculation” served “as an inappropriate means to prove its case.”

Mancini, a nurse, faced charges of criminal assisted suicide for handing her father, a terminally ill 93-year-old in hospice care, his valid prescription for morphine. She was arrested not long after a hospice nurse found Mancini’s father unconscious, talked to Mancini about her father, and called the police and paramedics. Against her father’s documented end-of-life wishes, her father was then taken to a local hospital and revived. Four days later, he died.

I’m not a lawyer, and I don’t pretend to know all of the ins and outs of this particular case, but I do know scenarios like this happen every day in every state. Throughout the US, terminally ill people are getting help to die through a wink-wink, nudge-nudge, “take as much of this prescribed medication as necessary.”

The difference with this case was a healthcare worker acted against a family’s wishes and an overzealous attorney general decided to make a political statement by bringing charges against Mancini. What should have been a private time for the family to grieve the death of Mancini’s father became political theater leaving Mancini out of work and saddled with over $100,000 in legal bills.

It’s a relief to see this case come to an end. I agree with the judge that it never should have happened in the first place. I hope the Mancini family is able to rebuild their lives and take time to finally grieve the loss of their loved one.

For me, this case was another example of why the work we do at the National Center matters. People should be able to have open and honest discussions with their doctors about how they want to live and die in their final days. It’s well past time to time to take what’s already happening out of the dark and bring it into the light.

By bringing these valid conversations out into the open and outlining the process with clear safeguards, Death with Dignity laws ensure the decision to hasten an inevitable and impending death rests fully in the hands of the person who’s dying, and no one else.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center