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Scenes from a Celebration: Commemorating 25 Years of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act

November 20, 2019

On November 8, Death with Dignity National Center hosted an event at Portland, Oregon’s Eliot Center to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the passage of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.

We were honored to be joined by two of Oregon’s most prominent proponents and defenders of the Oregon law: U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who defended the law from congressional attempts to undermine it in the late 1990s and early 2000s; and former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, MD, who during his first term as governor threatened to veto any legislation to repeal the law and has continued to speak in support of death with dignity as an end-of-life option.

We also hosted many other movement leaders and steadfast supporters from Oregon, Washington, California, and Maine, and screened an original film, “Voices of a Movement”. Here, we share scenes from a historic celebration. All photos by Nina Johnson. View the full photo gallery here.

From left: Death with Dignity Board President George Eighmey, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Death with Dignity Executive Director Peg Sandeen at the 25th-anniversary celebration in Portland November 8.

 

Death with Dignity Board President George Eighmey (left) with former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, MD. The two worked together in the late 1990s to protect the Oregon Death with Dignity Act from efforts to repeal the law.

 

Death with Dignity Board member Eli Stutsman, JD, right, and national political strategist Geoff Sugerman. Stutsman is the lead author of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act; Sugerman managed the successful 1994 campaign to pass the Oregon law. Behind them is a photograph from 1994, which the two re-created at our November 8 event.

 

Death with Dignity Board member Lisa Vigil Schattinger, left, and her mother, Jan Rowe. Lisa leads our partner organization, Ohio End of Life Options; Jan is a volunteer with End of Life Choices Oregon.

 

Former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, MD, speaks at Death with Dignity’s event in Portland November 8.

 

Senator Wyden and Death with Dignity Board President George Eighmey greet guests at Death with Dignity’s event in Portland November 8.

 

Death with Dignity Board member and Brittany Maynard’s mother, Deborah Ziegler, is pictured with California advocate Elaine Fong. Elaine’s mother used Washington’s Death with Dignity Act to die peacefully following months of suffering from terminal cancer.

 

Death with Dignity Executive Director Peg Sandeen, left, with Washington state advocate Nancy Niedzielski and Board member Midge Levy.

 

Senator Wyden speaks to attendees at Death with Dignity’s event in Portland November 8.

 

Death with Dignity Executive Director Peg Sandeen speaks to the crowd at Death with Dignity’s event in Portland November 8.

 

An event attendee watches interviews with pioneers of the assisted dying movement at Death with Dignity’s event in Portland November 8.

 

Eli Stutsman and former Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber listen to a speech at Death with Dignity’s event in Portland November 8.

 

Death with Dignity State Leadership Incubator Manager Valerie Lovelace at Death with Dignity’s event in Portland November 8. Val also chaired the Maine Death with Dignity steering committee and led our successful state-based efforts to pass a law in Maine.

 

Death with Dignity Board members Carol Pratt (left), Lisa Vigil Schattinger, and Eli Stutsman at Death with Dignity’s event in Portland November 8.

 

Event attendees, including Death with Dignity Board Vice Chair Carol Pratt (clapping), enjoy remarks by Senator Wyden at Death with Dignity’s event in Portland November 8.

 

Gifts for guests at Death with Dignity’s event in Portland November 8, made with care by Death with Dignity’s DeVida Johnson.

Voices of a Movement

We also screened an original short film by Portland, Oregon-based filmmaker Dawn Jones Redstone. “Voices of a Movement” chronicles the history of our movement from the perspective of individuals who have played a leading role in passing and protecting death with dignity laws across the U.S. ThWatch it below:

4 Comments.

Don Landry
November 20, 2019 at 10:13 am

Congratulations on a job well done. Now lets move onward and upward by adding an advance directive that covers dementia in the next 25 years..

Sue McKeown
November 21, 2019 at 10:49 am

Sorry, but guess you are not advocates of free speech or opposing viewpoints. I wrote a respectful, but dissenting viewpoint from our Anglican priest about why premature death by one’s own hand with assistance by medical professionals was not compatible with the Anglican Christian tradition. But you chose not to publish it. OK, that’s your right. You are a private, non-profit organization. But not all Christian clergy, nor all Christians and other people of faith, including Orthodox Jews and Muslims, disagree with your stance. You should be willing to acknowledge this.

What people say in polls and their actions also count as well. Why do so few people actually request legal life terminating medication when they are terminally ill even if they support it in referenda or an anonymous poll? Why are most people who choose this option overwhelmingly Caucasian, well-educated, and have above-average incomes? Sometimes people of color, those who lack higher education, or a middle-class or higher income may possess wisdom that those who consider themselves the “cream of society” lack. Maybe we (I include myself in this group because, despite my working-class roots, I possess a master’s degree, am Caucasian, and am blessed with financial security in retirement) have things to learn from them.

Peter Korchnak, Death with Dignity
November 26, 2019 at 11:51 pm

Your comment on our story from Ohio (if that’s what you are referring to) was published, and there’s even a response there as well. Comments do not appear immediately after posting, as they are held for moderation to prevent spam. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

donna skinner
November 22, 2019 at 4:10 pm

Praying that Missouri is next to accept Death With Dignity.

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