Press Room

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Death with Dignity National Center is a 501(c)3, non-partisan, non-profit organization that has led the legal defense and education of the Oregon Death with Dignity Law for more than 11 years. Death with Dignity National Center is affiliated with the Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund, a distinct and separate 501(c)4 entity responsible for the political defense of the Oregon law and the promotion of Death with Dignity initiatives in other states. Death with Dignity National Center's and Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund's boards of directors are comprised of some of the Death with Dignity movement's most esteemed medical, legal and scholarly experts.

Members of the press, please direct your inquiries to our executive director, Peg Sandeen or via phone at 503-228-4415.

Below you will find our most recent press releases.

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

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

New Pew Findings: Support for Death with Dignity

Peg Sandeen, PhD, MSW

Pew Research released new findings today on Americans' attitudes about end-of-life care and available options. Eighty two pages in all, it's an extensive report which looks not only at attitudes about Death with Dignity laws but also people's feelings about:

  • Life-preserving treatments
  • Preparation for, documenting, and discussing end-of-life wishes
  • Views on medical treatment decisions by a healthcare proxy
  • Aging and quality of life

The report compares views about end-of-life care based on surveys conducted in 1990 and 2005. It's the second in a two-part series by Pew Research Center's Religion and Public Life Project exploring findings of surveys on bioethics questions. The first, published back in August, focused on Americans' views on aging, medical advances, and radical life extension.

Read more: New Pew Findings: Support for Death with Dignity

Remembering Paul Spiers

The Death with Dignity National Center honors an important leader and advocate, Paul Spiers, who died yesterday in Massachusetts. Along with his unwavering support for Death with Dignity, Paul was an avid horseman and a gifted scholar, reflecting his widely varying interests and activities.

Paul was one of the first people who called me when I was named Executive Director of the National Center. He welcomed me to the job and quickly offered his assessment of the movement. I faced a steep learning curve in my new job, and he carefully helped me understand the complexities and nuances inherent in the issues I would face. We both had careers in healthcare without being direct care providers, and we both had personal reasons for being involved with the Death with Dignity movement. We had a respectful and productive relationship from nearly day one.

Paul helped start the organization Autonomy, which represents the interest of people with disabilities in their efforts to exercise choice in all aspects of their lives—including at the end of their lives. He was the President of End-of-Life Choices, a former organization in the Death with Dignity movement, and he helped me understand how all the organizations in the movement fit together...a complicated feat!

Read more: Remembering Paul Spiers

Vermont's Death with Dignity Law Implemented

Officials with the Vermont Department of Health have been hard at work solidifying the details to implement Vermont's new Death with Dignity law. Throughout their efforts, the Death with Dignity National Center, our board member George Eighmey, and other professionals familiar with the processes in Oregon and Washington have been working closely with Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen to develop a system in full compliance with the Vermont law.

This is an extension of the work we've been doing with our partners in Vermont for over 10 years. When Patient Choices Vermont first formed in 2002, president Dick Walters approached our organization as the leader in the movement for crafting, providing education about, and promoting groundbreaking Death with Dignity legislation.

Read more: Vermont's Death with Dignity Law Implemented

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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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