The mission of the Death with Dignity National Center is to promote death with dignity laws based on our model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, both to provide an option for dying individuals and to stimulate nationwide improvements in end-of-life care.
Death with Dignity National Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that
- expands the freedom of all qualified terminally ill Americans to make their own end-of-life decisions, including how they die;
- promotes death with dignity laws around the United States based on the groundbreaking Oregon model;
- provides information, education, and support about Death with Dignity as an end-of-life option to patients, family members, legislators, advocates, healthcare and end-of-life care professionals, media, and the interested public.
- mounts legal defense of physician-assisted dying legislation.
The greatest human freedom is to live and die according to our own desires and beliefs.
Our Core Values
At Death with Dignity National Center, we work to enact death with dignity laws based on Oregon’s model legislation. These laws empower individuals to have a good death: on their own terms and in accordance with their values and beliefs. In order to achieve this mission, we commit ourselves to the following core values, which inform everything we do:
We respect and honor the dignity and worth of all human beings.
Through political action and grassroots advocacy, we strive to provide all Americans an option that will allow them to die on their own terms. Death with dignity is a concept imbued with respect and honor for an individual’s choices, including how they choose to define a dignified death.
FREEDOM AND AUTONOMY:
We work to create a future in which all Americans have the freedom to make their own end-of-life decisions.
We believe individuals with terminal illness have a right to die with the same autonomy and agency with which they lived their lives. Our work arises out of deep respect and empathy for this most intimate and personal freedom.
We engender trust by practicing transparency, respecting patient privacy, honoring our commitments to supporters, and providing factual information to the public.
When building a social movement, every interaction matters. In our work with patients, caregivers, healthcare providers, donors, lawmakers, and grassroots advocates, we build trust one conversation at a time. We acknowledge our responsibility to act and interact in ways that demonstrate trust.
We are responsible stewards of the resources entrusted to us by our donors in order to ensure the long-term viability of our organization.
We invest in the future of our movement by being responsible stewards of donor gifts. We do this through strategic and responsible investment decisions that build financial stability now and into the future.
We take a stand for the fundamental human right of individuals with terminal illness to decide how they die.
Powerful individuals and institutions have long opposed our work and continue to use their clout to attempt to turn public opinion against us. Regardless of political risk, we have never wavered in our commitment to advancing policy reform that gives qualified individuals a compassionate end-of-life option and, over time, leads to improvements in end-of-life care for all.
DIVERSITY, EQUITY, AND INCLUSION:
We honor and embrace the diversity of voices in our movement and in our work environment and strive to make all feel included.
We want all people to see themselves in our movement. We work toward a world where everyone has an opportunity to die according to their own wishes, regardless of race, sex, age, religion, national origin, veteran status, disability, family relationships, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, or other legally protected category.
…is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that acts as the political arm of the National Center. The Fund
- drafts death with dignity laws based on the Oregon model;
- campaigns, lobbies, and advocates for death with dignity legislation in the states that lack it.
We authored, passed, and defended the Oregon law (1994/1997/2006); spearheaded the successful efforts to pass death with dignity statutes in Washington (2008), Vermont (2013), California (2015), Washington, DC (2017), Hawaii (2018), and Maine (2019), and led campaigns in Massachusetts (2012), Nevada (2017), and engaged in many other campaigns.
Both the Death with Dignity National Center and Death with Dignity Political Fund bring a unique brand of advocacy and political strategy to end-of-life care policy reform.
Our work centers around insider organizing with politically savvy legislative and community leaders who are endeavoring to enact death with dignity statutes through the state legislative process.
This is the style of policy work that seeks not to draw attention to our organization, but rather focuses on the assisted dying movement and the behind-the-scenes efforts necessary to move legislation through the political process.
We work directly with legislators to craft the best bills possible and shepherd them through the legislative process by providing political strategy guidance and other support.
For example, in the District of Columbia the Death with Dignity National Center has been at the center of legislative efforts since Day 1. On the day Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the Death with Dignity Act of 2015, her office requested assistance from us with shepherding the bill through the Council. From that point on, we have been by Councilmember Cheh and her colleagues’ side to get the bill passed. We visited with several Councilmembers and gave testimony at a public hearing on the Oregon and Washington experiences as well as clear evidence to counter opponent’s fear-based arguments. We worked directly with Councilmembers, whether through private communications or conference calls, to give them the evidence they need to make an informed decision and debunk the opposition’s lies. To support the Councilmember’s work, we commissioned a research poll, which showed that 67% of D.C. residents support the law. We also engaged supporters in the D.C. area to encourage the Council to support the measure and sponsored Facebook ads and a Change.org petition to engage D.C. residents on the issue. Finally, we were interviewed by the Washington Post‘s editorial board for paper’s two endorsements of the legislation.
In California our experts reviewed and revised every version and amendment of the bill; provided expert guidance from the experience of passing and implementing similar laws in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont; and helped prepare sponsors and witnesses for hearings and meetings.
This behind-the-scenes political and advocacy leadership is urgently important to our success.
We partner with local advocates, grassroots groups, and organizations, providing them with technical assistance in terms of strategy, online organizing, or fundraising, and looking to them for their local expertise and leadership in order to bring death with dignity to their state.
For example, in Vermont we were the only national organization active during the entire 10 years of political work it took to achieve legislative reform. We partnered with Patient Choices Vermont to help craft the law and provide strategic support for its passage; educate residents and interest groups about its benefits; and raise funds to underwrite the campaign.
The same is true of our work in Maine, where we partnered with Maine Death with Dignity to win the law in 2019.