Twenty-two years ago today, Oregon voters passed the nation’s first Death with Dignity law.
This fact and the incredible strides we’ve made in the Death with Dignity movement since then, and this year in particular, may be lost amid the mayhem of the presidential election.
- the California law going into effect in June;
- a preliminary up vote in the Council of the District of Columbia last week; and
- today’s passage of Proposition 106, the Colorado End of Life Options Act,
the Death with Dignity movement has progressed more in 2016 than any other year since 1994. We at the Death with Dignity National Center are proud to have been instrumentally involved in all of these victories.
Colorado Passes End of Life Option Act
In Colorado, we produced and ran in rural areas radio ads featuring Deborah Ziegler, the mother of Brittany Maynard and the author of the new memoir, Wild and Precious Life. Those ads helped Colorado voters decide to pass Prop 106 by an overwhelming 2 to 1 margin.
Commenting on today’s passage of the Colorado End of Life Options Act, Deborah said:
On behalf of the Death with Dignity National Center and my daughter, Brittany Maynard, I honor the people of Colorado for their humane vote to enact a new Death with Dignity law with the passage of Prop 106, the End of Life Options Act.
I can’t help today but think of Brittany, whose battle with brain cancer helped spark a national debate over the past two years.
I think of how proud Brittany would be of the campaign in Colorado, the people who came together to support this effort, and, most of all, of those like her who face this most difficult and personal decision.
Brittany is smiling down on Colorado today and thanking all its voters for taking up her just and worthy cause. And I am smiling up at her.
Once again, take a minute to consider this: Coloradans passed the End of Life Option Act 22 years to the day after Oregon voters approved the nation’s first Death with Dignity law.
For many years the Oregon Death with Dignity Act made the Beaver State the sole place in America where assisted dying was legal. With the passage today of the Colorado End of Life Options Act, the Death with Dignity National Center is inspired to have another state join the growing number of states that offer this end of life option for its terminally ill residents.
Our Work Bearing Fruit in Our Nation’s Capital
Last week we saw the culmination of nearly two years of our work when the Council of the District of Columbia approved, in a first of two required votes, its own Death with Dignity law by an 11-2 margin. Working closely with the lead sponsor, Councilmember Mary Cheh, we helped craft the law; we testified at hearings; we met privately with Councilmembers and provided data to refute our opponent’s 11th hour fear-mongering claims.
And when the Council approves the law for the second time by the end of the year, we will have achieved passage of another Death with Dignity law.
That all comes on top of California’s implementation of its End of Life Option Act earlier this year.
It has been a remarkable journey made possible by you and your generous support.
Heading into 2017
We’ve been at this for a long time and it is incredibly gratifying to see these successes. Like-minded national groups, such as Compassion and Choices, the, or the , and on-the-ground efforts of local grassroots groups and thousands of residents, have paved the way for Death with Dignity to reach what we believe is a tipping point as we head into legislative sessions in 2017.
We’re already working on the ground in a number of states to bring these laws to their communities. The model legislation we’ve developed is hitting just the right note as we look ahead to 2017. The model law contains safeguards that allow legislators to feel comfortable in voting Yes to provide Death with Dignity to their constituents.
In Hawaii, we’ve hired a top-notch political consultant who is working closely with leaders there to draft and introduce legislation. The reception we’ve received there is hugely encouraging to our success next year.
In Maine and Maryland, we’ve met with key legislators and local opinion leaders as we develop legislation and help recruit and train allies to help in this effort.
There is much to be done next year. But today, please take a moment to reflect on how far we’ve come in 2016. From coast to coast, our organization has helped to bring death with dignity to millions of people who may face this choice someday.
This year we have seen huge strides in providing new assisted dying laws to provide the terminally ill with this end-of-life option. In California, Washington, D.C., and now Colorado, we are honoring the struggles of our loved ones, both past and future, by insisting that the terminally ill be afforded this option. We’re proud to have been your voice in these efforts. Know that your efforts have inspired a nation to come to our side. With much gratitude we thank you.
The time has come for this movement to sweep across the nation.