The first month of 2015 has been very busy in our movement. Death with dignity appeared both in the national media and in local outlets in no fewer than 14 states around the U.S. as legislators there introduced or announced their intent to introduce bills (a handful of others will come up in the next few weeks.)
We begin with highlights of media coverage, including related editorials, of death with dignity laws being introduced or discussed around the country, along with a summary of the current status in each state (daily updates are here). The sheer number of states in play and corresponding media stories are testimony to how far the movement has progressed in large part thanks to the courage of Brittany Maynard in publicly sharing her private decision to request medication allowed under Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. The outpouring of support for Brittany and the work we do toward death with dignity policy reform throughout the U.S. has been truly incredible. The issue of having death with dignity as an end-of-life option is clearly important to Americans.
State Senators Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and Lois Wolk, D-Davis, introduced SB 168-End of Life Option Act at a press conference on January 21. Death with Dignity National Center has provided strategic support for the effort in California.
- “Brittany Maynard’s Death May Bring Life to ‘Aid in Dying’ Bill,” KCET, 1/15/2015
- San Francisco Chronicle: “California lawmakers to pursue right-to-die legislation,” 1/20; “California lawmakers introducing aid-in-dying bill,” 1/20; “Brittany Maynard’s mom: ‘Help me carry out my daughter’s legacy’,” 1/22
- LA Times: “Death with dignity movement is alive and well in California,” 1/20; “California lawmakers will push death-with-dignity measure,” 1/21
- “California lawmakers introduce Oregon-style assisted suicide bill”, Reuters, 1/21/2015
- Sacramento Bee: “California lawmakers introduce ‘death with dignity’ bill,” 1/21; “Let patients decide how they want to die,” 1/30/2015 (this is an op-ed by a friend of our organization, Dr. Peter Rasmussen)
- “How to die in California,” Sacramento News & Review, 1/22/2015
- Bill endorsements by LA Times, Sacramento Bee, and San Jose Mercury News, and San Francisco Chronicle.
Colorado State Reps. Lois Court, D-Denver, Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, and Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, introduced a Death with Dignity bill on January 27.
- “We have a right to die with dignity,” Journal Advocate, 1/19/2015
- “‘Death With Dignity’ Supporters To Discuss New Bill At State Capitol,” CBS Denver, 1/26/2015
- “Colorado lawmakers introducing right-to-die legislation,” San Francisco Chronicle, 1/27/2015
- “Death with dignity: Colorado Democrats propose right-to-die law,” ABC7 News Denver, 1/27/2015
- “Death with Dignity bill introduced in Colorado,” KRDO, 1/27/2015
- “‘Death with dignity’ legislation introduced in Colorado,” KDVR, 1/27/2015
- “Colorado lawmakers to debate a “death with dignity” law,” The Denver Post, 1/27/2015
- “Terminally ill offered ‘Death with Dignity’,” The Durango Herald, 1/27/2015
SB 668-An Act Providing a Medical Option of Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Adults has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
- “Stage is Set for Aid-In-Dying Showdown,” Hartford Courant, 1/23/2015
- “State Sen. Gary Winfield: Aid in dying — the issue in Connecticut is choice,” New Haven Register, 1/28/2015
State Representative Paul Baumbach has announced on his Facebook page that he intends to introduce a Death with Dignity bill this session.
District of Columbia
D.C. Ward 3 Council representative Mary Cheh introduced B21-0031-Death with Dignity Act of 2015 on 1/14/2015.
- “‘Death With Dignity’ laws are proposed, bringing national debate to D.C. and Md.,” Washington Post, 1/16/2015
- “DC Council to consider ‘Death with Dignity’ bill,” Washington Post, 1/14/2015
Eight State Representatives introduced HF 65-Iowa Death with Dignity Act on January 21.
- “Physician-assisted suicide bill offered in Iowa House,” The Iowa Statesman, 1/21/2015
House Bill 215-Kansas Death with Dignity Act has been introduced in the Committee on Health and Human Services. We registered no local media coverage in the state.
State Representative Del. Shane Pendergrass and Senator Young are developing companion bills resembling the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
- “Discussion over ‘death with dignity’ emerging in Maryland,” Baltimore Sun, 1/17/2015
- Comcast Newsmakers interview with State Senator Ron Young on his death-with-dignity bill, 1/30/2015
State Representative Kimberly Gardner, D-St. Louis, has introduced House Bill 307, which was read for the second time on 1/8/2015. No hearings are scheduled and the bill is not on the House calendar. We registered no media coverage in the state.
State Senate is due to vote on AB2270-Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act this session. Governor Christie opposes the law.
- “Christie wary of ‘Aid in Dying’ for terminally ill,” Asbury Park Press, 1/18/2015
State Senators Savino, D-N Staten Island/S Brooklyn, and Hoylman, D-Manhattan, plan to introduce a bill modeled on the Oregon law in the New York legislature this session. State Representative Linda Rosenthal is sponsoring a similar bill in the Assembly.
- “State Senators Look to Introduce ‘Death With Dignity’ Legislation This Month,” New York Observer, 1/15/2015
Representative Kouplen introduced HB 1673-Oklahoma Death with Dignity Act on January 30.
- “Beggs lawmaker introduces ‘Death With Dignity’ bill,” Tulsa World< 1/30/2015
Senator Fred Risser, D-Madison, and Representatives Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, and Sondy Pope, D-Cross Plains, are introducing a Death with Dignity measure modeled after the Oregon measure. This will be the 7th time such a proposal will have been introduced in the past 20 years. Though the legislators aren’t confident the bill will pass this session, they believe “it’s a conversation lawmakers ought to have.”
- “Lawmakers propose allowing terminally ill choice of suicide,” Wisconsin State Journal, 1/23/2015
A House Committee has tabled HB 119 Death with Dignity Act sponsored by State Representative Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, and recommended the proposed law be researched by an interim committee.
- “Lawmaker says he has ‘quiet support’ for death with dignity bill,” Casper Star Tribune, 1/20/2015
- “Committee tables Wyoming ‘Death with Dignity’ bill, recommends interim study,” Casper Star Tribune, 1/29/2015
In addition to these new or renewed efforts to adopt death with dignity laws, we’ve been monitoring the media in states where death with dignity is an option.
An appeals court in New Mexico is currently hearing a challenge to a lower court decision that doctors could not be prosecuted under the state’s assisted suicide law.
- “New Mexico appeals court to hear assisted suicide case,” KRQE, 1/23/2015
- “Right to medical aid in dying argued in NM appeals court,” Albuquerque Journal, 1/26/2015
- “Judges mull ‘Aid in Dying’ case,” KOAT, 1/26/2015
Legislators will be revisiting the state’s death with dignity law, adopted in 2013, to prevent changes removing many patient safeguards from going into effect next year. Meanwhile, the law is working as intended.
- “Vermont takes 2nd look at aid-in-dying law,” Burlington Free Press, 1/23/2015
- “Vermont takes 2nd look at aid-in-dying law,” WPTZ-NBC, 1/28/2015
- “Last Rights: A Putney Woman Becomes the Third Vermonter to End Her Life Using New Law,” Seven Days, 1/28/2015
In Part 2 later this week, we’ll feature stories from the national media and think pieces, opinions, and op-eds. Going forward we’ll bring you a media roundup on a weekly basis. If you’d prefer to follow along as news develops, Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.
California State Capitol image by Wayne Hsieh.
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