Washington Death with Dignity Law in Effect

Anne Martens

Today, after winning nearly 60% of the vote last November, Washington's Death with Dignity Act goes into effect. Modeled on the Oregon law, and passed with the help of the Oregon experience, the new Washington law will give terminally ill patients the right to make their own decisions about their own end-of-life care.

From your neighbors to the north, I just wanted to take a moment to say thank you.

  • joel dan walls (unverified)

    Just wondering: is the Washington law facing the sort of efforts to stall it or overturn it as were employed in Oregon?

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: joel dan walls | Mar 5, 2009 1:14:13 PM

    Well since the SCOTUS ruled in Oregon's favor, I think that the ship sailed awhile ago. I also don't think Attorney General Holder in the Obama administration would pursue this like Ashcroft did under Bush.

  • Bill R. (unverified)

    Washington State's decision is just the beginning. As someone who has worked in the field of mental health and aging, I can safely say that older people want the death with dignity option. They are the main proponents. I don't recall opinion polling but I'm pretty sure this is borne out. Now that Oregon has proven that old people and disabled are not going to be pushed into suicide, and euthanasia is not the next step, then other states are going to follow suit.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)

    This is one of those touchstone issues, whether or not the electorate have their hand on the tiller. It's good news.

  • (Show?)

    Compassion & Choices has a great webpage that provides info to patients and families (as well as info about the campaign and the new law).

    We are literally watching social progress unfold in Washington and Montana.

    Disclaimer: In my nonBlue Oregon life, I work for Compassion & Choices.

  • Ms Mel Harmon (unverified)

    Whooohooo! Congratulations to Washington...this is great news and I'm happy for all Washington residents.

  • Nancy N. (unverified)


    Thank you for everything YOU did to make the Death with Dignity Law happen. The Press Conference went well. Washington State will now be able to provide comfort to the terminally-ill. Randy would be so pleased. And congrats on family life!!!

  • Bob Plaisted, Jr. (unverified)

    The elderly and terminally ill are definitely the supporters. I have some first hand information about who is against it and why.

    I had a tumor the size of a lemon removed from my brain last week and just came home Thursday. Statistically, there's about a 5% chance that I will live for 5 years. I come from a conservative family. My father runs a rent-a-cop business and my wife is a totally in your face evangelist.

    From the moment I was diagnosed, our pastor began "pressure selling", telling us that number, statistics, and death with dignity were all Satan speaking to us. My wife has totally bought this, literally and figuratively. It seems the more he asks, the more he asks for. The bills are tight already, and I don't know if she understands the pressure his "faith seeds" are putting on us. My point is that selling faith is big business. When we go to religious discussion groups, almost every family is there because someone is ill, born with a disability, etc. The pastor being literally the only relief these folks have, means that the pastor has a guaranteed income.

    I can't even consider death with dignity. It would be a horrible let down to my parents and family. It would be succumbing to the temptations of Satan. If you consider that 1 in 3 Americans belong to a conservative denomination, passing this legislation is like allowing birth control, but not prosecuting parents that beat their daughters to death for using it. The terminally ill have simple choices. I can abandon my family and upbringing and die alone, or I can die in siezures, suffocating in my own vomit, because I love Jesus. As I see many persons of conservative faith leading the Democratic party, I have to conclude that the feeling that the legislation gives those who have passed it is more important than what it accomplishes. If it were the latter, you would not be subsidizing, via tax breaks and exemptions, the income that most pastors receive from scaring sick and disadvantaged persons.

    Of course, after I'm gone, my family will learn this first hand. They get to go through the next segment of the gauntlet, the funerary industry!

  • Tina (unverified)

    What you guys are doing is wrong! People should NOT be allowed to assist someone in suicide. It is wrong and sickening to think about.

  • rlw (unverified)

    Dear Tina:

    Don't think about it, then. The rest of us who have held the hands of the dying tossing in the storms of breath that will not come, hair that would hurt to the tips on fire if there were hair anymore to be hurting... let us do the work of listening to when enough is enough, rendered audible soul to soul by the one who craves to let go of the body.

    I'd like to see stats on just how many use the forbidden exit. My sister, going fast and bravely from liver cancer, she requested. She did not use. She made her crossing with grace,grit, honesty. And death was kind to her, taking her fast once it was fully in charge of her bodily systems. My sister, ultimately, was not faced with the spectre of physical system support machineries (NOT "life support" - listen to today's interview on Fresh Air, discussing that misnomer and what it does to naive and guiltily loving families)...

    Anyway, Tina: if it bothers you so much to engage the reality lip to lip, don't hurt yourself. Turn away, eh?

  • rlw (unverified)

    My direct experience is that far fewer actually USE the option than those who want to HAVE the option. It is like knowing you can make a mousehold in the dark, or that you own a safe word that really works. I do think I would like to see stats to prove out or disprove my sense from time spent in the interstices of living and dying. Sometimes you are too close to the experiences to know what it looks like from the whole perspective. Anyone got numbers? Anyone got trustworthy numbers?

  • rlw (unverified)

    Following is the Death With Dignity link from Oregon Medical Board. The horse's mouth on this from the Oregon side.


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