Death with Dignity Around the U.S.

Updated as of February 27, 2015

Bills which seek to improve end-of-life care have been introduced in state legislatures around the country, and state legislators look to the Oregon Death with Dignity Act as a guide for good reason. Oregon's law has been in effect since 1997, and the years of data show the law is safe and utilized the way it's intended with no evidence of a slippery slope for vulnerable Oregonians. Our win in Washington in 2008 and our 2013 victory in Vermont demonstrate this solid legislation stands the test of time and serves as the model for all states.

While many bills are drafted each year, the majority fail. Some consider it a failure most bills don't end up becoming law, but we view these bills as a testament to the growing support of the Death with Dignity movement, the will of the public, and the strength of the Oregon, Washington, and Vermont model legislation. This past fall we have been working in several states, traveling from the Death with Dignity National Center's home offices in Portland, Oregon, to meet with legislators, legislative staffers, volunteers, patients, family members, and physicians. All this work was conducted in anticipation of a wildly successful legislative season in every region of the country. After all, with public support hovering between 68 and 74 percent and with 17 years of data demonstrating Death with Dignity laws work as intended with no abuse, there is no rational reason for a legislator to oppose Death with Dignity policy reform.

Below is a summary of the status of current death with dignity-related legislation in the US and what we see coming in the months ahead as the 2015 legislative session progresses. In all, 22 legislatures plus the District of Columbia will have seen a bill proposal by the end of their current session. We update the information on this page daily based on news reports and our own activities.


ALASKA
Bill Number HB 99
Bill title An act relating to the voluntary termination of life by terminally ill individuals
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 2/9/2015
Current Status State Representative Harriet Drummond has introduced a bill, which has been read and referred to the Health & Human Services Committee.

CALIFORNIA
Bill Number SB 128
Bill title End of Life Option Act
Summary Authorizes adults meeting certain qualifications and suffering from terminal illness to request medications for the purpose of ending their life.
Date Introduced 1/21/2015
Current Status State Senators Bill Monning, D-Carmel, and Lois Wolk, D-Davis, introduced a bill at a press conference on January 21 (watch our summary here). Death with Dignity National Center has provided strategic support for the effort in California. Meanwhile, on February 11 a lawsuit was filed in San Francisco challenging the state's ban on physician-assisted dying.

COLORADO
Bill Number HB 15-1135
Bill title Colorado Death with Dignity Act
Summary Concerning a terminally ill individual's freedom to make end-of-life decisions.
Date Introduced 1/27/2015
Current Status Colorado State Reps. Lois Court, D-Denver, Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins, and Lucia Guzman, D-Denver, introduced a Death with Dignity bill, which was debated and voted down in a House Committee.

CONNECTICUT
Bill Number SB 668
Bill title An Act Providing a Medical Option of Compassionate Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Adults
Summary To allow a terminally ill person who is mentally competent the option to receive a prescription for medication that he or she can self-ingest to bring about a peaceful death.
Date Introduced 1/23/2015
Current Status Three state senators and 13 representatives have introduced a bill, which has been referred to and will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

DELAWARE
Bill Number TBD
Bill title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status State Representative Paul Baumbach has announced he intends to introduce a Death with Dignity bill this session.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Bill Number B21-0031
Bill title Death with Dignity Act of 2015
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 1/14/2015
Current Status D.C. Ward 3 Council representative Mary Cheh has introduced a Death with Dignity Act. We'll be watching closely as the bill goes through the Council.

HAWAII
Bill Number TBD
Bill title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status A bill was debated during the 2013 session but did not move forward. Legislators are again considering an Oregon-style Death with Dignity bill for this year's session. Our leadership team has worked in this state to help build a foundation for success.

IOWA
Bill Number HF 65
Bill title Iowa Death with Dignity Act
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 1/21/2015
Current Status State Representatives Brian Meyer, D-Des Moines, Dennis Cohoon, D-Burlington, Sally Stutsman, D-Riverside, Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, Timi Brown-Powers, D-Waterloo, Mary Wolfe, D-Clinton, Marti Anderson, D-Des Moines, and Beth Wessel Kroeschell, D-Ames, have introduced a bill. No organizations have registered in favor of the bill. Iowa has a long history of civil rights firsts.

KANSAS
Bill Number HB 2150
Bill title Kansas Death with Dignity Act
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 1/28/2015
Current Status A bill has been introduced in the Kansas State House by the standing Committee on Vision 2020 and referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services.

MAINE
Bill Number TBD
Bill title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status Representatives Bobbi Beavers, D-South Berwick, Denise Harlow, D-Portland, Stephen Wood, R-Sabattus, as well as Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta are drafting a bill.

MARYLAND
Bill Number SB 0676 (Senate) / HB 1021 (House)
Bill title Richard E. Israel and Roger "Pip" Moyer Death With Dignity Act (Senate and House bill are cross-filed)
Summary Authorizing a qualified patient to request aid in dying by making specified requests.
Date Introduced 2/6/2015 (Senate) / 2/13/2015 (House)
Current Status State Delegate Shane Pendergrass, D-Howard, plus 37 co-sponsors, and Senator Ronald Young, D-Frederick, plus 7 co-sponsors, have introduced cross-filed bills in the House and Senate, respectively (the bill is named the Richard E. Israel and Roger "Pip" Moyer Death With Dignity Act after a former Maryland Assistant Attorney General and ex-Alderman with degenerative Parkinson's Disease, who advocated for the terminally ill to be provided options in how they die, and for a former Annapolis mayor). The House bill will get a hearing on March 6, the Senate one on March 10. Governor-elect Hogan has expressed his opposition to such legislation.

MASSACHUSETTS
Bill Number HD 1674
Bill title Massachusetts Compassionate Care for the Terminally Act
Summary TBD
Date Introduced 1/15/2015
Current Status After the narrow loss on the 2012 ballot, a bill was heard in committee in the 2013 session but did not move forward. Representative Louis Kafka, D-Stoughton, has filed a bill this session, the fourth time he's done so, backed by 39 lawmakers. However, the most likely route to policy reform may be through the ballot. Unfortunately, a Death with Dignity bill cannot return to the Massachusetts ballot until 2018 because of the Commonwealth's rules on the initiative process.

MISSOURI
Bill Number HB 307
Bill title Missouri Death With Dignity Act
Summary Establishes the Missouri Death With Dignity Act to allow patients with terminal disease to end their life in a humane and dignified manner.
Date Introduced 1/7/2015
Current Status State Representative Kimberly Gardner, D-St. Louis, has introduced House Bill 307, which was read for the second time on 1/8/2015. No hearings are scheduled and the bill is not on the House calendar.

MONTANA
Bill Number SB 202
Bill title Montana Death With Dignity Act
Summary Establishes guidelines and immunities for physicians who provide end of life care.
Current Status 1/21/2015
Current Status The Montana Supreme Court ruled in 2009 that nothing in the state's statutes prohibits physicians from prescribing medication to terminally ill patients; the ruling essentially rendered death with dignity not illegal in the state. In the current legislative session, State Senator Dick Barrett, D-Missoula, has introduced a bill, which was tabled in the Judiciary Committee on February 11. A parallel bill, HB 328 stipulating that "consent is not a defense for physician assisted suicide" was defeated in the House on February 17, while HB 477, which provides, among other things, that "providing physician-assisted suicide is against public policy and is prohibited" has passed a Committee vote.

NEVADA
Bill Number TBD
Bill title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status Last fall we worked with Nevada legislators to help build a foundation for success as they consider an Oregon-style Death with Dignity bill for this year's session.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Bill Number HB 151
Bill title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status Following a nay vote in the State House in 2014, New Hampshire legislators are returning to the issue again this session, with HB 151, sponsored by Rep. Phillips, which aims to "establish a committee to study end-of-life decisions."

NEW JERSEY
Bill Number Assembly Bill 2270
Bill title Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act
Summary Introduces legislation similar to the Oregon, Washington, and Vermont Death with Dignity laws.
Date Introduced 1/14/2014 in the Senate, 2/6/2014 in the Assembly.
Current Status On 11/13/2014 the Assembly voted 41-31 in favor of the bill. A vote in the Senate is imminent. Governor Chris Christie has promised to veto the bill.

NEW MEXICO
Bill Number TBD
Bill title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status An appeals court is deciding a challenge to a lower court ruling that doctors could not be prosecuted under the state’s assisted suicide law.

NEW YORK
Bill Number A02129 & A05261 (Assembly) / SB3685-2015 (Senate)
Bill title New York Death with Dignity Act & Patient Self-Determination Act (Assembly) / New York End of Life Options Act (Senate)
Summary To grant terminally-ill New Yorkers the right to end their lives safely and in a humane and dignified manner (A02129) / Authorizes the prescription of aid-in-dying medication to individuals with terminal illnesses (SB3685)
Date Introduced 1/15/2015 & 2/13/2015 (Assembly) / 2/13/2015 (Senate)
Current Status State Representative Linda Rosenthal has introduced a bill in the Assembly, where it was referred to the health committee. A month later State Senators Savino, D-N Staten Island/S Brooklyn, and Hoylman, D-Manhattan, introduced a bill in the Senate, and a separate group of Representatives a parallel, patient self-determination bill proposal. Meanwhile, a lawsuit before the State Supreme Court seeks to legalize "doctor-assisted suicide" in the state.

OKLAHOMA
Bill Number HB 1673
Bill title Oklahoma Death with Dignity Act
Summary Introduces legislation similar to the Oregon, Washington, and Vermont Death with Dignity laws.
Date Introduced 1/30/2015
Current Status Rep. Steve Kouplen, D-Beggs, has authored and filed a bill proposal.

PENNSYLVANIA
Bill Number TBD
Bill title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status State Senator Daylen Leach, D-Montgomery, and Representative Rozzi, D-Berks, introduced parallel proposals, based on the Oregon law, in the 2013-2014 session but the bills did not come up for a vote. Legislators intend to introduce a bill again this session.

UTAH
Bill Number HB 391
Bill title Utah Death with Dignity Act
Summary Introduces legislation similar to the Oregon, Washington, and Vermont Death with Dignity laws.
Date Introduced 2/24/2015
Current Status Representative Rebecca Chavez-Houck, D-Salt Lake City, has introduced a Death with Dignity bill this year in order to start the discussion about it before the annual session adjourns in March.

WISCONSIN
Bill Number TBD
Bill title TBD
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status Senator Fred Risser, D-Madison, and Representatives Dianne Hesselbein, D-Middleton, and Sondy Pope, D-Cross Plains, are introducing a Death with Dignity measure modeled after the Oregon measure. This will be the 7th time such a proposal will have been introduced in the past 20 years. In previous 6 attempts the bill was not heard by the Wisconsin Assembly or Senate. Though the legislators aren't confident the bill will pass this session, they believe "it's a conversation lawmakers ought to have."

WYOMING
Bill Number HB 119
Bill title Death with Dignity Act
Summary TBD
Date Introduced TBD
Current Status A House Committee has tabled a Death with Dignity bill sponsored by State Representative Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, and recommended the proposed law be researched by an interim committee.

Did we miss one? Contact Peter Korchnak with updates on your state.

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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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