People the world over desire to control their own end-of-life care. While the Death with Dignity National Center’s focus is on supporting and promoting US Death with Dignity laws, there are groups across the globe who work toward developing similar laws in their countries. Many of these groups, like us, are members of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies.
Since 1976, Federation members have come together every other year to discuss the global right to die movement. This year’s conference—kicking off September 17th—will be the first one in the US since the Boston gathering in 2000. Chicago will host this year, and Death with Dignity National Center board member George Eighmey will be among the featured speakers at the conference.
George will present on our work to pass the third US Death with Dignity law in the state of Vermont. Vermont’s law was the first law of its kind on the East Coast, and the first passed through the legislative process. This historic achievement came to fruition after over 10 years of dedicated work by us and the local grassroots group, Patient Choices Vermont.
A major shift in the state came when dedicated supporter Peter Shumlin assumed the governorship in 2011. His outspoken support for Death with Dignity on the campaign trail in 2010 bolstered support throughout the state, and encouraged his colleagues in both legislative chambers to be more vocal in their own support.
In the lead up to his re-election in 2012, Governor Shumlin took the unprecedented step of making the legislation part of his campaign platform. Shortly after his re-election, he told reporters signing the Death with Dignity bill was one of four social issues he saw as a priority during his second term.
No doubt about it, Governor Shumlin’s leadership in supporting the legislation moved the foundation we built with our partners over the years to the final step of codifying Death with Dignity in the state’s statute last year. If you’re attending the conference, don’t miss George’s presentation on Vermont’s new law, how it came to be, and its impact on the movement throughout the US.
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