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Death with Dignity Around the U.S.

Death with Dignity Around the U.S.

Updated as of August 12, 2010

The 2008 passage of the Washington Death with Dignity Act not only marked a great victory for Death with Dignity supporters, it also inspired legislators in other states to begin working on this important issue. Since the win in Washington, bills that seek to improve end-of-life care have been introduced in state legislatures around the country.

State legislatures are in session and Death with Dignity legislation is introduced consistently each spring in states around the country, in part because legislators have the Oregon law to use as guide. While many bills are drafted each year, the majority fail. Some consider it a failure that most bills do not end up becoming law, but we view these bills as a testament to the Death with Dignity movement, the will of the public, and the strength of Oregon’s model legislation.

Below is a summary of the status of Death with Dignity and end-of-life care efforts and legislation around the nation.

Legislation

  • Arizona - End of Life Options, Right to Know legislation. Senate Bill 1311 introduced and sponsored by Sens. Lopez, Allen C, Burton Cahill, Landrum Taylor, Miranda; Representative Sinema; Sens. Aguirre, Alvarez, Rios; Reps. Campbell CH, Campbell CL, Farley, Miranda B, Waters. In Committee on 6/8/09.

  • Connecticut - Death with Dignity (DWD) legislation. Senate Bill 1138 sponsored by the Judiciary Committee. Committee voted to "box" meaning reject the bill on 3/19/2009.

  • Hawaii - DWD legislation. House Bill 587 sponsored by Ito. Re-referred to House Judiciary Committee on 2/10/2009.

  • Hawaii - DWD Legislation. House Bill 806 sponsored by Oshiro, Belatti, Karamatsu, Marumoto, Say, Thielen, and Bertram. Re-referred to House Judiciary Committee on 2/10/2009. Carried over to 2010 Regular Session and remains in House Judiciary Committee. No action likely.

  • Maryland - Right to Know legislation. House Bill 30 sponsored by Bobo and Manno. Passed House. Stalled in Senate Finance Committee on 3/18/2009. No action taken.

  • Massachusetts - DWD Legislation. House Bill 1468 sponsored by Kafka and Galvin on behalf of constituent, Al Lipkind of Stoughton, MA. Judiciary Committee hearing held on 2/23/2010.

  • Montana - Assisted Suicide Ban. Draft # LC0041, requests for the Montana legislature to draft a ban for the 2011 session. Draft submitted 01/07/10.

  • Montana - DWD legislation. LC 1818 sponsored by Barrett and O’Connell. Draft Died in Process on 4/28/2009.

  • New Hampshire - DWD legislation. House Bill 304. Proposed and sponsored by Weed, Richardson, Watrous, and Mitchell. Retained In Committee - House Judiciary on 2/19/2009. The New Hampshire House voted the bill down 242 to 113 on 1/13/2010.

  • New Mexico - DWD legislation. House Bill 814. Proposed by Karen E. Gianni. Died on Legislature Day #23.

  • New York - Right to Know legislation. Assembly Bill A7617. Introduced by Gottfried et al. on 4/17/2009. Same legislation was introduced in the Senate (S4498). It requires a health care practioner to provide palliative care information and end-of-life options to a patient diagnosed with a terminal illness or condition. It passed Assembly on 3/8/2010, and delivered to the Health Committee in the Senate. It is known as the Palliative Care Patient Information Act.

  • Pennsylvania - DWD legislation. Senate Bill 404 sponsored by Leach, Boscola, and Washington. Stalled in Judiciary Committee on 3/5/2009. No action taken.

  • Vermont - DWD legislation. House Bill 455 sponsored by Zuckerman and 55 others. Referred to Human Services Committee on 4/24/2009. No action taken.

  • Vermont - DWD legislation. Senate Bill 144 proposed by Lyons, Snelling, Ashe, Bartlett, Flanagan, MacDonald, McCormack, Miller, Racine, Shumlin, White, & Ayer. In Committee - Health and Welfare on 4/17/2009. No action taken.

  • Vermont - Right to Know/Palliative Care legislation. House Bill 435 sponsored by House Committee on Human Services. Passed. Governor Douglas signed it into law in May, 2009.

  • Wyoming - Assisted Suicide Ban. House Bill 120 sponsored by Reps. Davison, Brechtel, Jaggi, McKin, and Petersen, and Sens. Cooper, Meier, and Peterson. As of 2/2/2009, inactive: failed deadline, no further consideration this session.

  • Court Cases

  • Connecticut - DWD court case. Blick v. Connecticut, filed on October 6, 2009. Two Connecticut physicians are asking the courts to specify their position on death with dignity. The court heard oral arguments on the Motion to Dismiss on March 8, 2010. On June 2, 2010, Judge Julia Aurigemma ruled to dismiss the case. No appeal was filed.

  • Montana - DWD Court Case. Baxter, et al v. Montana. A Montana Supreme Court case ruled on 12/31/09 that nothing in the state constitution prevents physicians from prescribing life-ending medication to terminally-ill mentally competent adults.

Posted on June 16, 2009 in Personal Stories

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You are the key to ensuring well-crafted Death with Dignity laws for all Americans. With your financial and volunteer help, the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, nonprofit organization, has been the leading advocate in the Death with Dignity movement. Individual contributions helped us pass new Death with Dignity laws in Washington and Vermont, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the Death with Dignity movement.

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