By Chris Haring

Val Lovelace, a pioneer for medical aid in dying in Maine, has received overwhelming support as she battles a degenerative eye disease and vision loss.

Val Lovelace, often called the mother of Death with Dignity in Maine, has spent much of her life advocating for compassionate end-of-life options.

Her work, inspired by her steadfast dedication, eventually influenced legislators to successfully pass the state’s Death with Dignity Act in 2019, a significant milestone for the aid-in-dying movement. Now, as she faces a personal health challenge, the community is coming together to support her just as she has supported so many others.

Val helps bring aid in dying to Maine

Val founded Maine Death with Dignity, dedicating countless hours to educating and mobilizing advocates and lawmakers. Her efforts culminated in the passing of Maine’s Death with Dignity Act, a law that has allowed hundreds of Mainers to access medical aid in dying over the past five years.

However, as Piper Pavelich most recently recounted for Maine’s Lincoln County News, Val’s focus is on a new, even more personal battle: she now faces pathologic myopia. This degenerative eye disease causes a severe form of nearsightedness and gradual vision loss.

Val is receiving deserved support after her contributions to the right-to-die movement

Val’s diagnosis occurred nearly five years ago, and since, her condition has rendered it unsafe for her to live alone. To help her retain a degree of independence, her son agreed to build a visually impaired accessible addition to his home, but builders estimated the cost at nearly $150,000. 

Undeterred by the financial burden, an array of folks whose lives Val touched sprung to action. Most recently, friends and supporters gathered in late June at a garden party fundraiser where attendees shared stories and expressed their admiration for Val. The event raised $2,500, adding to the over $89,500 (and counting) collected through a GoFundMe page organized in March 2023 by her friends.

Val says the community’s upliftment of her and her family has been palpable: “This has been the most humbling, moving experience that I’ve ever had, that people care this way,” she shared. “For me to even think about living in a place that has been built by so many caring people, the energy of that place is going to be amazing.”

Those who wish to help financially support Val and her family through this endeavor can donate to her still-active GoFundMe page here.