The mission of the Death with Dignity National Center is to promote Death with Dignity laws based on our model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, both to provide an option for dying individuals and to stimulate nationwide improvements in end-of-life care.
Death with Dignity National Center is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that
- expands the freedom of all qualified terminally ill Americans to make their own end-of-life decisions, including how they die;
- promotes Death with Dignity laws around the United States based on the groundbreaking Oregon model;
- provides information, education, and support about Death with Dignity as an end-of-life option to patients, family members, legislators, advocates, healthcare and end-of-life care professionals, media, and the interested public.
- mounts legal defense of physician-assisted dying legislation.
The greatest human freedom is to live and die according to our own desires and beliefs.
…is a 501(c)4 nonprofit organization that acts as the political arm of the National Center. The Fund
- drafts Death with Dignity laws based on the Oregon model;
- campaigns, lobbies, and advocates for Death with Dignity legislation in the states that lack them.
We authored, passed, and defended the Oregon law (1994/1997/2006); spearheaded the successful efforts to pass Death with Dignity statutes in Washington (2008), Vermont (2013), and California (2015); and led the Maine (2000), Hawaii (2002), and Massachusetts (2012) campaigns, which were all defeated only by narrow margins.
Both the Death with Dignity National Center and Death with Dignity Political Fund bring a unique brand of advocacy and political strategy to end-of-life care policy reform.
Our work centers around insider organizing with politically savvy legislative and community leaders who are endeavoring to enact Death with Dignity statutes through the state legislative process.
This is the style of legislative work that seeks not to draw attention to our organization, but rather focuses on the assisted dying movement and the behind-the-scenes political work necessary to move controversial legislation through the political process.
We work directly with legislators to craft the best bills possible and shepherd them through the legislative process by providing political strategy guidance and other support.
For example, in the District of Columbia the Death with Dignity National Center has been at the center of legislative efforts since Day 1. On the day Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the Death with Dignity Act of 2015, her office requested assistance from us with shepherding the bill through the Council. From that point on, we have been by Councilmember Cheh and her colleagues’ side to get the bill passed. We visited with several Councilmembers and gave testimony at a public hearing on the Oregon and Washington experiences as well as clear evidence to counter opponent’s fear-based arguments. We worked directly with Councilmembers, whether through private communications or conference calls, to give them the evidence they need to make an informed decision and debunk the opposition’s lies. To support the Councilmember’s work, we commissioned a research poll, which showed that 67% of D.C. residents support the law. We also engaged supporters in the D.C. area to encourage the Council to support the measure and sponsored Facebook ads and a Change.org petition to engage D.C. residents on the issue. Finally, we were interviewed by the Washington Post‘s editorial board for paper’s two endorsements of the legislation.
In California our experts reviewed and revised every version and amendment of the bill; provided expert guidance from the experience of passing and implementing similar laws in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont; and coached sponsors and witnesses through hearings and meetings.
This behind-the-scenes political and advocacy leadership is urgently important to our success.
We partner with local advocates, grassroots groups, and organizations, providing them with technical assistance in terms of political strategy, online organizing, or fundraising, and looking to them for their local expertise and leadership in order to bring Death with Dignity to their state.
For example, in Vermont we were the only national organization active during the entire 10 years of political work it took to achieve legislative reform. We partnered with Patient Choices Vermont to help craft the law and provide strategic support for its passage; educate residents and interest groups about its benefits; and raise funds to underwrite the campaign.
We are currently working with grassroots groups/nonprofit organizations in Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and advocates in several other states.