Massachusetts

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Dignity 2012, a coalition of concerned citizens supporting the proposed Massachusetts Death with Dignity Act, is leading the way to bring state-monitored physician-hastened dying for terminally ill adult residents.

These blog posts are about Dignity 2012's hard work.

An Accelerated Rate of Change

An accelerated rate of change

The US Supreme Court's ruling on two key cases around gay marriage this week took many of us Death with Dignity advocates back to 2006 and the elation we felt when the Court released a majority opinion (also written by Justice Kennedy) in favor of the Death with Dignity movement in Gonzales v. Oregon. Both rulings, while different in nature, signal a shift away from a national government or government agents having a say in our most personal decisions about how we live and die.

The 2006 ruling was the first major case tried under Chief Justice John Roberts, and while there have been a couple changes since then, the Court remains more conservative in nature. Both rulings were closely split: 6-3 in 2006 and 5-4 this week, and the majority opinions for both pointed out the federal actions violated our country's principles of federalism, which allow states to largely chart their own course.

Read more: An Accelerated Rate of Change

Vermont's New Law: A Conversation with Dick Walters and George Eighmey

Dick Walters and George Eighmey

I'm proud to announce our new foray into the world of podcasts! In our very first one, we celebrated the new Vermont Death with Dignity law in an interview with two individuals who spanned the US to help Vermont become the first state to pass this law through legislation: Dick Walters and George Eighmey.

Dick Walters is the founder and president of Patient Choices Vermont—a local grassroots organization which has advocated for passage of this law since 2002. George Eighmey serves on the Death with Dignity National Center board of directors and previously helped terminally ill Oregonians navigate Oregon's Death with Dignity law for 12 years.

Listen to the whole interview on our website. Below, are some highlights from my interview with Dick and George:

Melissa Barber: George, will you tell us a little about how you first got involved with the Death with Dignity movement?

George Eighmey: This movement really grew out of, surprisingly, the AIDS epidemic back in the early 80s. When I was fortunate to be asked to be the chair of an organization that helped people who were facing end of life because of AIDS epidemic and, I saw far too many young men end their lives tragically. There didn't seem to be any way to give them a peaceful end.

Read more: Vermont's New Law: A Conversation with Dick Walters and George Eighmey

VT Gov Shumlin Signs Historic Death with Dignity Bill

For Immediate Release

Contact: Peg Sandeen, MSW, Executive Director
              Death with Dignity National Center
              503-228-4415
              psandeen@deathwithdignity.org

Death with Dignity National Center, the nonprofit organization which advanced and defends the groundbreaking Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts, applauds Vermont lawmakers for making Vermont the third state in the US allowing for safeguarded assisted death. With Governor Peter Shumlin's signature today, Vermont took a historic step forward by becoming the first state to pass a law modeled on the groundbreaking Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts through a legislative process.

"Twenty years ago this summer, I led a small group which proposed a new idea: terminally ill adults should be able to determine the timing and manner of their deaths within certain, well-defined guidelines if they desired. What was once a novel idea, has become model legislation, codified in other states." said Eli Stutsman, lead author of the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts and founding board member of the Death with Dignity National Center.

Read more: VT Gov Shumlin Signs Historic Death with Dignity Bill

History is Made

Vermont Death with Dignity

Vermont: the first state to pass a Death with Dignity law through legislation!

Lawmakers in Vermont supported the rights of terminally ill individuals and passed a Vermont law designed on the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts—the first one to be enacted through a legislative process and first of its kind on the east coast.

Today's historic event comes after more than 10 years of diligent work by our partners, Patient Choices Vermont. From the beginning in 2002, our family of organizations has been directly involved as a full partner with Patient Choices Vermont. Together, we've changed the entire conversation around end-of-life care policy reform.

The new Vermont law emulates the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts and provides a process for mentally competent, terminally ill patients to achieve a peaceful death by ingesting medication provided by their physician.

Read more: History is Made

This Week in the Movement

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

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

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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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