The death with dignity movement gained national momentum in the 1990s. Since then, ten jurisdictions have passed death with dignity legislation, and many states are continuing to fight for death with dignity each year.
California SB310 goes into effect, amending the California End of Life Options Act, adding important changes to improve patient access
New Mexico Voters Win
New Mexico passes the Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act, the 10th jurisdiction to enact a death with dignity law.
New Jersey and Maine Voters Win
New Jersey passes the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, the 8th jurisdiction to enact a death with dignity law. Maine passes the Death with Dignity Act, the 9th jurisdiction to enact a death with dignity law. Opponents of Maine’s death with dignity law fail to collect enough signatures to overturn it.
Hawaii Voters Win
Hawaii passes the Our Care, Our Choice Act and becomes the 7th jurisdiction to enact a death with dignity law. In May, the California End of Life Option Act is suspended for 3 weeks following a district court ruling.
The D.C. Death with Dignity Act goes into effect, making it the 6th jurisdiction with access.
Colorado and Washington, D.C. Voters Win
California Voters Win
25 states and Washington, D.C. consider death with dignity bills. The California legislature passes the End of Life Option Act, the 4th jurisdiction to pass a death with dignity law.
Vermont Voters Win
On May 20, Vermont becomes the third U.S. jurisdiction with a death with dignity law, the first law to pass by legislative action.
The Washington Death with Dignity Act goes into effect in March, the second state to pass death with dignity legislation.
Washington Voters Win
Washington voters pass ballot initiative I-1000, the Washington Death with Dignity Act, by a margin of 51 to 49 percent.
The U.S. Supreme Court votes 6 to 3 to uphold Oregon’s death with dignity law on the grounds that states do not control lethal drugs. Three states introduce death with dignity bills: Arizona, Rhode Island, and Washington.
The U.S. Supreme Court agrees to hear the Attorney General’s case against the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. The Vermont Death with Dignity Act and California Compassionate Choices Act are introduced.
The Oregon Health Services Commission determines death with dignity medications may be covered by state funds under the Oregon Health Plan. In the first year of implementation, 16 Oregonians die taking the medication prescribed under the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
Oregon Voters Win
The Oregon Death with Dignity Act takes effect on October 27 after attorneys from Death with Dignity successfully argue in front of the Ninth Circuit Court to overturn an injunction against implementation. The Act serves as the first-of-its kind legislation in the world, allowing patients with terminal illness in Oregon the right to assisted-dying.
An updated Gallup poll shows 75% of respondents favor death with dignity legislation, the highest support on record.
The Oregon Death with Dignity Legal Defense and Education Center is founded to defend Ballot Measure 16. U.S. District Judge Hogan rules that Oregon Measure 16 is unconstitutional on grounds it violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.
First Law in the United States
Oregon voters approve Measure 16, a Death with Dignity Act ballot initiative. U.S. District Court Judge Hogan issues a temporary restraining order against Oregon’s Measure 16, following with an injunction to bar the state from putting the law into effect.
Oregon Right to Die is formed, and they begin working on the state’s third assisted-dying bill, which becomes a template for other states. A Harris poll shows 73% of respondents are in favor of death with dignity.
California introduces the California Death with Dignity Act, Proposition 161, on the state ballot.
Washington Initiative 119, the first voter referendum concerning death with dignity, is filed and Oregon introduces a second assisted-dying bill. A Gallup poll shows 65% of Americans support physician-assisted dying.
The Early Years
Oregon introduces the first assisted dying bill.