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Oregon's 2013 Death with Dignity Report

Death with Dignity by the Numbers - Oregon 2013

Every year, a small number of Oregonians exercise their rights allowed under the Death with Dignity Act. One of the people who requested the medication was Ben Wald. In 2006, he was diagnosed with colon cancer. He underwent treatment, and went back to enjoying the retired life until the cancer returned and metastasized to his lungs in 2011.

He sought treatment, but the cancer didn't respond and instead advanced to his bones. He enrolled in hospice, and on April 3rd, 2012, he decided to also explore his end-of-life options allowed under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act. In an interview with the Corvallis Gazette Times, Ben's wife, Pam, recalled, "Once he learned that he was going to be given the choice to end his life, he relaxed."

Just by having the option of Death with Dignity, a person regains control over a terminal illness at a time when their illness is quickly stripping away options and control. Though rarely used, the option of Death with Dignity provides comfort to countless individuals who know they have options at the end of their lives.

Read more: Oregon's 2013 Death with Dignity Report

This Week in the Movement

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Below are highlights from the last couple weeks.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

Public Displays of Cancer

Lisa Bonchek Adams' Twitter profile

There isn't much to add to the ongoing cultural conversation about Lisa Bonchek Adams, a woman with stage 4 breast cancer who is using Twitter and the blogosphere as a platform to tell her life's story, and Emma and Bill Keller, a wife and husband team of opinion columnists who publicly questioned the seriously ill woman's use of Twitter.

The story as it played out in the media goes something like this: Adams was diagnosed with cancer seven years ago at the age of 37. She's a mother with three young children whose goal is to live long enough to see her children grow up. Like many individuals with the disease, she's sought out aggressive treatment for metastatic breast cancer. She's a prolific blogger and uses Twitter to chronicle her life.

Read more: Public Displays of Cancer

NM Judge Rules in Favor of Death with Dignity

Yesterday, a New Mexico court ruled terminally ill, mentally competent residents have a constitutional right to request prescribed medication to shorten their suffering. In her ruling, Second Judicial District Judge Nan Nash stated:

If decisions made in the shadow of one's imminent death regarding how they and their loved ones will face that death are not fundamental and at the core of these constitutional guarantees, then what decisions are? As recognized by the United States Supreme Court in Cruzan "[t]he choice between life and death is a deeply personal decision of obvious and overwhelming finality."

The case, Morris v. Brandenberg was brought before the court on behalf of two doctors, Dr. Katherine Morris and Dr. Aroop Mangalik, as well as a woman diagnosed with advanced uterine cancer, Aja Riggs. According to the Associated Press:

Read more: NM Judge Rules in Favor of Death with Dignity

Demystifying Death for a Child

Stacey and her family at Race for the Cure

Stacey Tinianov is a caffeine-powered working mama and shiny object follower, runner, suburban environmentalist, cyclist, breast cancer ass-kicker, and empowered patient advocate. Follow her on Twitter, @CoffeeMommy.

Three years ago, the idea of choosing death over life was a completely foreign concept to me. And then my 85-year old grandmother had a massive stroke on the day of my son's 9th birthday party.

Within 12 hours, I was on a plane to Texas and not long after I was in the ICU holding her hand. She was lucid but completely paralyzed on one side. She tried to talk but she was hard to understand. She was irritated to be stuck in a bed and didn't seem to understand half her body wasn't working. She would pump her leg and arm as if she were running to prove she did indeed have body control.

With the combination of her spunk, the support of her family gathered around her bedside and the excellent care she was receiving in the hospital, we all thought—assumed—she'd recover.

Then, she failed her swallow test. And we watched her lose her will to live.

Read more: Demystifying Death for a Child

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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, non-profit organization, has been the leading advocate in the death with dignity movement. Member contributions helped us pass a new Death with Dignity law in Washington, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the death with dignity movement.

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