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.

New Jersey Assembly Committee Clears Death with Dignity Bill

Claudia Burzichelli, photo by Patti Sapone of The Star-Ledger

After hearing two hours of testimony, the New Jersey Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee voted to move the proposed Death with Dignity bill to the full Assembly for a vote. Assembly Bill 3328, introduced by Representative John Burzichelli, would send a law emulating the Oregon and Washington Death with Dignity Acts to the voters of New Jersey.

Among the people testifying in favor of the bill was Claudia Burzichelli, the sister-in-law of Representative Burzichelli, who told the Assembly about family members who would have benefited from the proposed law. Then 18 months ago, she learned she too has a terminal illness, stage 4 lung cancer. She floored the committee with her testimony:

On the days when I have struggled to breathe or think about the stresses on my family, I would hope I might have more options than starving myself or taking my life in a violent way. I don't know how I will truly feel if and when that time may come. But it comforts me there could be a another way, other options. I hope New Jersey will become a state that gives respect and dignity to those who are dying.

Read more: New Jersey Assembly Committee Clears Death with Dignity Bill

Will Vermont Soon Join Oregon & Washington?

George Eighmey, photo care of Patient Choices Vermont

George testified before the Vermont Senate Health and Welfare Committee about the proposed Death with Dignity bill (Senate Bill 77) last week. He observed the hours of hearings that went on throughout the week. Below are his observation of the proceedings.

The Vermont legislature is poised to pass an Oregon like Death with Dignity bill within the next few weeks. Attempts to enact a right to die act in Vermont have been going on since 2007, but it appears 2013 may be the year it finally passes. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin made passage of the law a high priority and has enlisted the speaker of the house and president of the senate, both Democrats, to shepherd the bill through the legislative process.

Read more: Will Vermont Soon Join Oregon & Washington?

Vermont Senate Committee Endorses Death with Dignity

Oregon hospice expert Ann Jackson testifying in Vermont.

After hearing hours of heartfelt testimony throughout the week, the Vermont Senate Health and Welfare Committee endorsed the Death with Dignity bill to move forward today.

The bill will now be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration. The Judiciary Committee will decide whether or not to allow the bill to move to the Senate floor for debate. According to news reports, the decision is expected to take place the week of February 11th.

Social movements like Death with Dignity are slow, ponderous behemoths, which seem to unexpectedly speed up. For 12 years, dedicated advocates in Vermont have been working toward enacting the first Death with Dignity law through the legislative process. And after a somewhat quiet period of building support, the last two years have seen major steps forward for the state. All the years of hard work are now coming to fruition at a rapid pace.

It's an exciting time for Death with Dignity, and we look forward to keeping you up to date with these and other states' legislative developments.

Read more: Vermont Senate Committee Endorses Death with Dignity

All Eyes on Vermont

Packed house for the public hearing, photo care of Patient Choices

The Vermont lawmakers are expected to hear more than seven hours of testimony about Death with Dignity this week. Hearings began yesterday morning with the the Senate Health and Welfare Committee members listening to testimony by supporters including former Governor Madeleine Kunin and Attorney General William Sorrell about why a Death with Dignity law should be enacted in the state.

Quoted in VT Digger, Attorney General Sorrell said, "I think the right to make an informed decision about the end of your life when you are terminally ill and you have all of your faculties about you, the option to be able to make that choice is a simple one; I think it's a personal right. I think it's a hugely private right. And there are people I respect who oppose people having this opportunity, and they are entitled to those opinions."

Governor Kunin gave heartfelt testimony about her recent experience with her brother's death which only reaffirmed her commitment to supporting Death with Dignity legislation, "We have to respect the wishes of the dying person."

Read more: All Eyes on Vermont

Oregon's 2012 Death with Dignity Report

Written into Death with Dignity laws is the requirement the state's Health Department must issue annual reports of information collected during the medication request process.

Oregon's Public Health Division recently issued their 15th annual report, and consistent with all previous years, the data continue to show the law works the way it's intended: rarely used, but providing comfort to countless individuals who know they have options at the end of their lives.

Some quick facts about the usage of Oregon's law in 2012:

  • 77 people hastened their deaths under the Oregon law.
  • This accounts for 0.2% of all deaths in Oregon.
  • The top three concerns people expressed to their doctors when requesting the medication were centered around wanting control over their final days.
  • Of the end-of-life concerns expressed, the least common was "financial implications of treatment."

The numbers also show people who request the medication under Oregon's law are receiving high quality end-of-life care:

Read more: Oregon's 2012 Death with Dignity Report


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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