History

Advocacy for physician assistance in dying when faced with a terminal illness has a long history, and recently we've seen some great strides forward:

  • Oregon: Oregon voters passed their law in 1994, and after a series of challenges went into effect in 1997. Legal challenges continued even after Oregon's law went into effect culminating in the 2006 US Supreme Court decision in 2006's Gonzales vs. Oregon.
  • Washington: In 2008, Washington voters passed their Death with Dignity Act, and the law took effect in 2009.
  • Montana: In December 2009, Montana's Supreme Court ruled nothing in the state law prohibited a physician from honoring a terminally ill, mentally competent patient's request by prescribing medication to hasten the patient's death. In 2013, a bill was introduced to the Montana legislature regarding Death with Dignity. Modeled on the existing Death with Dignity laws, it would've codified the Supreme Court ruling and outlined the circumstances when the physician could prescribe the medication. The bill was tabled by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a procedural move to prevent the bill from moving forward. While a standard of care for physician assisted death still needs to be developed, the Senate committee listened to the will of the people and honored individuals' decisions regarding how to live the rest of his or her life when faced with a terminal illness.
  • Vermont: with Governor Peter Shumlin's signature on May 20, 2013, Vermont became the third state to enact a Death with Dignity law—the first in New England and the first to be passed through legislation. The law went into effect immediately.

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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