Week 16/2015 in the Death with Dignity Movement

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Last week (April 12 to April 19, 2015) a debate unfolded in North Carolina following the introduction of a Death with Dignity bill, modeled on the Oregon law. In Delaware, a Death with Dignity bill, to be introduced in a matter of weeks, received initial scrutiny. And the National Health Care Decisions Day raised awareness about the importance of advance care planning.

Delaware

The Death with Dignity conversation started ramping up here as Representative Paul Baumbach prepares to introduce a bill.

North Carolina

The state debated its first-ever Death with Dignity bill.

Elsewhere

Image by Shawn Hoke.

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Week 15/2015 in the Death with Dignity Movement

Last week, a Death with Dignity bill, SB 128 – End of Life Option Act, passed in the California Senate Judiciary Committee. A proposed bill was heard in a Rhode Island House Committee. North Carolina saw a bill introduced for the first time.

Bills in Connecticut, Nevada, and Tennessee legislatures died in committee: after Committee hearings the Connecticut bill failed to come up for a vote for the third time in as many years; the Nevada bill will not receive a hearing; and the Tennessee bill was tabled for interim study.

These are the highlights of the most important developments in the movement around the United States from April 5 to April 11, 2015, with the corresponding media coverage.

California

The End of Life Option Act cleared another hurdle in the Senate when it passed in the Judiciary Committee by a partisan vote of 5 to 2. The bill is next headed to the Appropriations Committee in May.

Connecticut

For the third time in as many years, a Death with Dignity bill did not come out for a Committee vote in the State Legislature.

New York

Advocates for Death with Dignity are gearing up to a push for the proposed legislation.

Elsewhere

Image by InSapphoWeTrust.

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Week 14/2015 in the Death with Dignity Movement

Last week, Maryland legislators decided to not vote on proposed Death with Dignity bills, effectively delaying them until the 2016 session. California enjoyed the success of the proposed End of Life Option Act in the Senate Health Committee and geared up to this week’s Judiciary Committee hearing. Montana rejected a proposed ban on physician-assisted dying. And ten years passed since the Terri Schiavo case brought assisted dying into the national spotlight (read more in TIME Magazine).

These are the highlights of the most important developments in the movement around the United States from March 29 to April 4, 2015, with the corresponding media coverage.

California

The Death with Dignity debate continued apace in California following the bill’s passage in a Senate Committee.

Maryland

The Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death With Dignity Act was delayed until next year.

Montana

The ban on physician-assisted dying failed in the Montana Senate.

Elsewhere

Image by InSapphoWeTrust.

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Week 13/2015 in the Death with Dignity Movement

Last week the Death with Dignity movement registered an important success in California, where the Senate Health Committee approved the proposed Senate Bill 128 – End of Life Option Act by 6 votes to 2, with 1 abstention. The bill now moves to the Judiciary Committee, with a hearing scheduled for Tuesday, April 7. Bills also moved through the Maryland and Minnesota legislatures. We learned that Tennessee will see a proposed bill this week as well, bringing the number of jurisdictions considering Death with Dignity this session to 25 (including District of Columbia).

These are the highlights of the most important developments in the movement around the United States from March 22 to March 28, 2015, with the corresponding media coverage.

California

The Senate Health Committee approved SB 128 with a 7 to 2 vote.

Maryland

The state Assembly considered the Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death With Dignity Act.

Minnesota

The bill introduced the previous week got some attention.

Elsewhere

Image by Jason McHuff.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

In Support of Maryland Death with Dignity Act

The Health and Government Operations and Judiciary Committees of the Maryland House of Delegates held a joint hearing today about HB1021 – Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death with Dignity Act. Our executive director, Peg Sandeen, attended the hearing and for an hour and a half testified in support of the proposed bill and answered questions from the committee (the witness panel also included the current Delegate Shane Pendergrass, the primary sponsor of the bill, Stephen H. Sachs, a former Maryland Attorney General, and McShane Glover, a close friend of Dick Israel, who is one of the two people named in the title of the bill). This is the full text of the testimony.

Testimony in Support of Maryland’s Proposed Death with Dignity Bill

I am the executive director of the Death with Dignity National Center, an organization dedicated to improving and expanding the medical options available to terminally ill patients. In addition, I am a social worker, an instructor at the Portland State University School of Social Work, and the surviving widow of a terminally ill individual who wanted desperately to control the timing and manner of his death. As an advocate and a family member profoundly impacted by an avoidable and horrible dying experience, I strongly commend the sponsors of this legislation for your leadership in bringing this important issue forward.

Advances in medical technology have led to improvements in the care of dying patients that were unimaginable even 40 years ago. But these same breakthroughs have allowed some terminally ill patients to be kept “alive” far beyond any point of natural death, leading to extensive suffering and a diminished quality of life. To address this social problem, in 1994 Oregon enacted a carefully crafted Death with Dignity law that allows a terminally ill person to receive a prescription to hasten death safely and humanely, and requires that the medication be self-administered.

Oregon Death with Dignity Act

Now in its 18th year of successful implementation, the law sets forth precisely delineated conditions under which a patient may qualify for the medication. The bill under consideration in Maryland draws upon this model and the comprehensive peer-reviewed medical literature examining Oregon’s experience with it. These provisions act as safeguards to prevent abuse and medical mistakes, and they have worked exceedingly well. The requirements include a minimum age (18), maximum prognosis (6 months), waiting periods, repeated requests, second doctor’s opinion, and a finding of mental capability, as well as mandatory discussion of hospice and all other feasible alternatives.

The Oregon Experience

Annually, the State of Oregon issues a report on usage patterns related to Death with Dignity, and I would like to share some of findings from the most recent report. In the 17 years the law has been successfully implemented only 859 Oregonians have hastened their deaths under the auspices of the law. The Death with Dignity Act in Oregon is rarely used, in 2014, 3.1/1000 deaths were attributable to physician-prescribed aid in dying.

In those same 17 years, 1, 327 individuals have received prescriptions to hasten their deaths, meaning that over time about 30% of individuals who went through all the steps to qualify chose not to hasten their deaths, but rather died from their underlying terminal illness. For them, the Death with Dignity Act provided peace of mind and a modicum of control during their final days.

The data tell us that most participants had cancer (78%) or ALS (8.3%); died at home (94.6%) and were receiving comprehensive end-of-life care through participation and enrollment with hospice (90%). Sixty percent had private insurance, and 38% had a government-funded form of medical insurance like Medicaid or Medicare. Individuals who take advantage of Death with Dignity in Oregon are not individuals without other health care options. They are insured, cared for by hospice. They tend to die at home surrounded by their loved ones.

Death with Dignity Option a Comfort to Patients and Families

Oregon has proven that the existence of the legal option of physician Death with Dignity, though it is sparingly used, is of enormous comfort to terminally ill patients and their families; moreover, it has had a positive psychological effect upon countless others as they think about what kind of end-of-life care they would want if they were to experience terminal illness.

Despite the cataclysmic predictions of its opponents, the Oregon experience has also shown that such a legal alternative can be a catalyst for medical progress, prompting other improvements that enhance the overall medical care of terminally ill patients in the state. A robust process of public education and legislative debate can be expected to spawn new and creative proposals to advance end of life care in Maryland.

The process in which you are engaged is of the utmost importance to the people of Maryland, who want and deserve the highest quality, most humane end of life care possible. I applaud your efforts and offer my personal and professional assistance as you grapple with this profound subject.”
  
Image by Jimmy Emerson, DVM.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

Week 12/2015 in the Death with Dignity Movement

Last week was marked by a long and emotional hearing in Connecticut on HB 7015 – An Act Providing a Medical Option of Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Adults. A Death with Dignity bill was introduced in Minnesota as SF 1880 – Minnesota Compassionate Care Act; Senate Bill 128 – California End of Life Option Act got US Senator Dianne Feinstein’s endorsement; and a bill criminalizing physician-assisted dying passed in the Montana House, portending the possibility of a ban.

These are the highlights of the most important developments in the movement around the United States from March 15 to March 21, 2015, with the corresponding media coverage.

California

As California geared up to this week’s Senate Committee hearing on the End of Life Option Act, the bill gained an influential supporter.

Connecticut

Connecticut’s House hearing of the HB 7015 – An Act Providing a Medical Option of Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Adults saw hundreds of people provide emotional testimonies.

Nevada

Nevada Senators Parks and Kieckhefer introduced Patient Self-Determination Act.

Elsewhere

Image by weirdisnothing.

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Week 11/2015 in the Death with Dignity Movement

Maryland was in the spotlight of the Death with Dignity movement last week, with the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing drawing dozens of testimonies, including from our Executive Director, Peg Sandeen; our friend Dr. Peter Rasmussen, MD, coined an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun in support of the bill and Marylanders’ right to Death with Dignity as an end-of-life option.

The New York Times endorsed Death with Dignity as an end-of-life option for the terminally ill. Across the pond, beloved author and dying with dignity campaigner Terry Pratchett died.

These are the highlights of the most important developments in the movement around the United States from March 8 to March 14, 2015, with the corresponding media coverage.

California

California was getting ready for the March 25 Senate hearing of the End of Life Option Act.

Connecticut

Connecticut geared up to its Assembly hearing this week on the proposed physician-assisted dying bill.

Maryland

Maryland was abuzz with the House and Senate hearings on the Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death With Dignity Act.

Montana

Montana saw a rollercoaster in the House when a proposed bill outlawing physician-assisted dying first passed and eventually failed on a split vote.

Utah

Though the Utah Death with Dignity Act was tabled until next year, a discussion about the issue started in the state. A poll showed the majority of Utahns are in favor of such legislation.

Vermont

In Vermont, a bill passed in the Senate that removed the sunset provision from the state’s Death with Dignity bill, keeping safeguards intact.

Elsewhere

A couple of nice opinion pieces:

Image by Daniel Blume.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

Week 10/2015 in the Death with Dignity Movement

The most important development in the Death with Dignity movement last week was the joint hearing of the Health and Government Operations and Judiciary Committees of the Maryland House of Delegates about HB1021 – Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death with Dignity Act, where we provided a testimony. In New Hampshire, the House passed a bill establishing a committee to study end-of-life choices. And here in Oregon, a friend of our organization’s, Dr. Peter Rasmussen, appeared on OPB’s Think Out Loud program discussing Death with Dignity.

These are the highlights of the most important developments in the movement around the United States from March 1 to March 7, 2015, with the corresponding media coverage.

Maryland

The debate about the proposed Death with Dignity bill heated up in the run-up to the March 6 House Committee hearing.

New Jersey

Elsewhere

Image by [BarZaN] Qtr.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

We Testified in Support of Maryland Death with Dignity Act

The Health and Government Operations and Judiciary Committees of the Maryland House of Delegates held a joint hearing today about HB1021 – Richard E. Israel and Roger “Pip” Moyer Death with Dignity Act. Our executive director, Peg Sandeen, attended the hearing and for an hour and a half testified in support of the proposed bill and answered questions from the committee. This is the full text of the testimony.

Testimony in Support of Maryland’s Proposed Death with Dignity Bill

I am the executive director of the Death with Dignity National Center, an organization dedicated to improving and expanding the medical options available to terminally ill patients. In addition, I am a social worker, an instructor at the Portland State University School of Social Work, and the surviving widow of a terminally ill individual who wanted desperately to control the timing and manner of his death. As an advocate and a family member profoundly impacted by an avoidable and horrible dying experience, I strongly commend the sponsors of this legislation for your leadership in bringing this important issue forward.

Advances in medical technology have led to improvements in the care of dying patients that were unimaginable even 40 years ago. But these same breakthroughs have allowed some terminally ill patients to be kept “alive” far beyond any point of natural death, leading to extensive suffering and a diminished quality of life. To address this social problem, in 1994 Oregon enacted a carefully crafted Death with Dignity law that allows a terminally ill person to receive a prescription to hasten death safely and humanely, and requires that the medication be self-administered.

Oregon Death with Dignity Act

Now in its 18th year of successful implementation, the law sets forth precisely delineated conditions under which a patient may qualify for the medication. The bill under consideration in Maryland draws upon this model and the comprehensive peer-reviewed medical literature examining Oregon’s experience with it. These provisions act as safeguards to prevent abuse and medical mistakes, and they have worked exceedingly well. The requirements include a minimum age (18), maximum prognosis (6 months), waiting periods, repeated requests, second doctor’s opinion, and a finding of mental capability, as well as mandatory discussion of hospice and all other feasible alternatives.

The Oregon Experience

Annually, the State of Oregon issues a report on usage patterns related to Death with Dignity, and I would like to share some of findings from the most recent report. In the 17 years the law has been successfully implemented only 859 Oregonians have hastened their deaths under the auspices of the law. The Death with Dignity Act in Oregon is rarely used, in 2014, 3.1/1000 deaths were attributable to physician-prescribed aid in dying.

In those same 17 years, 1, 327 individuals have received prescriptions to hasten their deaths, meaning that over time about 30% of individuals who went through all the steps to qualify chose not to hasten their deaths, but rather died from their underlying terminal illness. For them, the Death with Dignity Act provided peace of mind and a modicum of control during their final days.

The data tell us that most participants had cancer (78%) or ALS (8.3%); died at home (94.6%) and were receiving comprehensive end-of-life care through participation and enrollment with hospice (90%). Sixty percent had private insurance, and 38% had a government-funded form of medical insurance like Medicaid or Medicare. Individuals who take advantage of Death with Dignity in Oregon are not individuals without other health care options. They are insured, cared for by hospice. They tend to die at home surrounded by their loved ones.

Death with Dignity Option a Comfort to Patients and Families

Oregon has proven that the existence of the legal option of physician Death with Dignity, though it is sparingly used, is of enormous comfort to terminally ill patients and their families; moreover, it has had a positive psychological effect upon countless others as they think about what kind of end-of-life care they would want if they were to experience terminal illness.

Despite the cataclysmic predictions of its opponents, the Oregon experience has also shown that such a legal alternative can be a catalyst for medical progress, prompting other improvements that enhance the overall medical care of terminally ill patients in the state. A robust process of public education and legislative debate can be expected to spawn new and creative proposals to advance end of life care in Maryland.

The process in which you are engaged is of the utmost importance to the people of Maryland, who want and deserve the highest quality, most humane end of life care possible. I applaud your efforts and offer my personal and professional assistance as you grapple with this profound subject.”
  
Image by Jimmy Emerson, DVM.

View full post on Death with Dignity National Center

Week 9/2015 in the Death with Dignity Movement

Last week Brittany Maynard’s mother, Debbie Ziegler, appeared on Dr. Oz show (video preview | summary), and husband, Dan Diaz, posted an op-ed in Time magazine. Utah saw a bill introduced. New Hampshire debated a bill establishing a committee to explore end-of-life options. Polls in Maryland and New Jersey showed strong support for bills proposed in those states. The Applied Sentience blog called Death with Dignity a top three political battle this year, as continued debates in California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and other states demonstrate. And, the artist and Death with Dignity advocate Leonard Nimoy passed away.

These are the highlights of the most important developments in the movement around the United States from February 22 to February 28, 2015, with the corresponding media coverage.

Alaska

California

Connecticut

Maryland

New Jersey

Utah

Elsewhere

  • New Hampshire: “Bill aims to give citizens more control at end of life,” SeacoastOnline.com, 2/25/2015
  • Image by m01229.

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