Death with Dignity Acts

Three states have enacted Death with Dignity laws: Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. These laws allow mentally competent, terminally-ill adult state residents to voluntarily request and receive a prescription medication to hasten their death. This is one of many end-of-life care options available in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont.

Oregon voters approved of their Death with Dignity Act in 1994 and confirmed their support in 1997. Oregon's law went into effect in 1997. The voters of Washington passed their law in 2008 and it was implemented in 2009 after no credible legal challenges. Vermont became the third state with a Death with Dignity law in 2013, and the law went into effect immediately after Governor Shumlin signed it on May 20th.

Montana doesn't currently have a law safeguarding physician-assisted death. In December 2009, Montana's Supreme Court ruled nothing in the state law prohibited a physician from honoring a terminally ill, mentally competent patient's request by prescribing medication to hasten the patient's death. Since the ruling, several bills have been introduced to codify or ban the practice, but none of those bills have become law.

Please read more about eligibility and the application process, the application form, as well as the statutes in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact us.

As required by law, each year, the Oregon Department of Human Services and Washington State Department of Health publish information about their residents' usage of their Death with Dignity Acts. Through these reports you can learn more about the underlying terminal-illnesses, reasons for requesting the medication, and how Death with Dignity as an end-of-life option works with hospices.

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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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