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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

Momentum from Coast to Coast

"In all likelihood, with all the momentum built during the Vermont and Massachusetts efforts, the next states to achieve Death with Dignity policy reform will be in the movement's current center of activity—New England."

- Peg Sandeen, Executive Director
Death with Dignity National Center
American Society on Aging's publication Aging Today.

Peg's article in the November/December issue of Aging Today (and published online in January) offered a look at where the debate over end-of-life healthcare policy reform is heating up: the Northeast. Much of this is tied to the increased awareness and understanding of Death with Dignity laws resulting from the recent near victory in Massachusetts and last year's historic achievement in Vermont.

Legislative sessions are back in full swing in most states, and already Death with Dignity bills are being proposed anew or carried over if they were still active. I track these bills throughout the year, and you can stay up-to-date by visiting our legislative tracking page.

Some highlights:

Read more: Momentum from Coast to Coast

Barbara Mancini Case Dismissed

Barbara Mancini

This week, an absurd case against a grieving daughter finally came to an end. On the one year anniversary of her father's death, Barbara Mancini learned Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline Russell dismissed Pennsylvania Attorney General's case against her.

Judge Russell minced no words in taking the State to task in her 47 page opinion about why she dismissed the case. According to a story in Philly.com:

"A jury may not receive a case where it must rely on conjecture to reach a verdict." The case "would not warrant submission to a jury due to the lack of competent evidence," she continued, adding that "the commonwealth's reliance on speculation" served "as an inappropriate means to prove its case."

Mancini, a nurse, faced charges of criminal assisted suicide for handing her father, a terminally ill 93-year-old in hospice care, his valid prescription for morphine. She was arrested not long after a hospice nurse found Mancini's father unconscious, talked to Mancini about her father, and called the police and paramedics. Against her father's documented end-of-life wishes, her father was then taken to a local hospital and revived. Four days later, he died.

Read more: Barbara Mancini Case Dismissed

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 week.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

When Dementia Looms: What Can I Do Now to Ease Decision Making Later

The idea of the basic end-of-life conversation is to uncover and explore feelings and opinions about the difficult decisions that come along, preferably long before arriving at the end of one's life, and how you want others to participate in those decisions or even make them for you. There are plenty of standard forms which lead you through different end-of-life scenarios, with thought-provoking questions such as "if I am incapacitated and require mechanical ventilation to stay alive, I would want the doctors to..." and so on. It's my contention (and that of many others, of course) this process not only helps to clarify the decision making process and choices, but it also encourages thinking about the inevitable fact of death, and hopefully, helps break down emotional barriers which keep us from preparing for it.

But it suddenly occurred to me one day there's a whole separate set of decisions that must be made long before we develop the terminal illness that eventually requires end-of-life thinking. In some ways, these may seem even harder than some of the end-of-life decisions, since the subject of the decision is still present and may not consider it necessary for anyone else to decide for them.

Read more: When Dementia Looms: What Can I Do Now to Ease Decision Making Later

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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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