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

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