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In Memoriam: Peter Goodwin

Peter Goodwin, photo by Michael Lloyd of The OregonianFive days before he took medication prescribed under the safeguards of Oregon's Death with Dignity law, Peter Goodwin called me to say goodbye. He struggled with the symptoms of his terminal illness during the call, but our conversation was filled with pauses driven by memories and laughter. We recalled the first time we met—at a forum for medical students at Oregon Health Sciences University (OHSU)—and the last time we saw each other—at a screening of How to Die in Oregon.

It was a privilege to have this conversation. These conversations aren't easy, as it's uncomfortable saying goodbye when it's forever. Without Death with Dignity, though, he likely wouldn't have had the opportunity to say his goodbyes.

Read more: In Memoriam: Peter Goodwin

Vermont Senate Committee Hearing Scheduled

Patient Choices Vermont

Some very exciting news from Vermont! Seven Days reports the State Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a hearing for Senate Bill 103 this week.

Vermont's proposed legislation emulates the time-tested Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts. It has strong support with more than a third of lawmakers in both chambers signed on as sponsors and 64% of Vermont voters in favor of their lawmakers passing the legislation.

As Adam Necrason, a lobbyist representing Patient Choices at End of Life Vermont, noted in a press release:

Read more: Vermont Senate Committee Hearing Scheduled

Massachusetts Death with Dignity Initiative Receives Hearing

Massachusetts State House Dignity 2012 and the proposed Massachusetts Death with Dignity Act took another step forward toward the November ballot yesterday through the state's indirect initiative process.

As Peg Sandeen reported on our blog earlier, Dignity 2012 gathered 79,626 qualified signatures which were certified by the Commonwealth in December 2011. The initiative was then introduced to the Massachusetts House of Representatives and assigned to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

Yesterday, the Joint Committee held a hearing for this initiative as well as 56 other proposed laws. As mandated by the Massachusetts Constitution, this step was really more of a formality in the process.

The possible actions by the state legislature are:

Read more: Massachusetts Death with Dignity Initiative Receives Hearing

Oregon Death with Dignity 2011 Report

Oregon Death with Dignity Act Prescriptions and Deaths 1998-2011

The Oregon Public Health Division released its statutorily-required annual report about the Oregon Death with Dignity Act and the terminally ill individuals who qualified under its provisions. The release reflects statistics from the 14th year of implementation, and encompasses data from January 7, 2011-February 29, 2012—roughly 13 months.

Consistent with information from prior years, the data show Death with Dignity is a rarely used option for a small number of terminally ill Oregonians. The report indicates the process was implemented, in every instance, under the strict guidelines written into Oregon law and the established medical standard of care that has evolved since implementation.

Read more: Oregon Death with Dignity 2011 Report

POLST: Communicating Your End-of-Life Wishes

POLST Form If you've been diagnosed with a terminal illness, you may have been asked to participate in a discussion with a healthcare team which resulted in a POLST form (or a similar document like POST, MOLST or MOST). POLST stands for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment, and is placed in a patient's medical chart.

Many healthcare systems have adopted POLST programs, and there are multiple reasons supporting the adoption of them:

Read more: POLST: Communicating Your End-of-Life Wishes

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Defend dignity. Take action.

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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