by Nancy Sapiro, JD, EOLWA Lobbyist
While it may seem like the ink is barely dry on the bills that were signed into law from the 2022 session, End of Life Washington’s advocacy work is well underway, preparing for the 2023 session. We’ve been meeting internally to discuss strategy, as well as meeting with legislators, all in an effort to get our medical aid in dying bill across the finish line in 2023. As you likely remember from our alerts and newsletters last session, HB 1141 would improve access to our state’s Death with Dignity law by shortening the waiting period, increasing the types of providers that can participate in DWD, and allowing prescriptions to be delivered by mail.
Of course, the work that we are able to do is informed by the current makeup of the Legislature. And as the flood of campaign ads and letters popping up in your mailboxes indicates, it is election season. This means that all 98 of the House seats and half (25) of the Senate seats are up for election this fall. In addition to the natural turnover that results from elections, there are over 20 legislators who decided not to run for re-election or are running for a different seat. This means there will be many new faces in the Legislature in January of 2023 and lots of educational work to do with these new members. It is surprising how few legislators know about medical aid-in-dying generally or about the specifics of our Death with Dignity law. This is your opportunity to help change that narrative!
Find out who the candidates are for the House and Senate seats in your district. Attend a forum where they will be debating; write or call them and ask about their position on medical aid in dying. Don’t assume that the candidate supports our work regardless of their support of other issues or their party affiliation. Ask the questions so that you know where they stand. This is also an opportunity for you to begin developing a relationship with them, so that you can call upon them in January to support our legislation.
All of us connected with EOLWA know well the importance and necessity of medical aid in dying, and the challenges in both accessing it and ensuring that it is accessible for those who want to use it. It is a complicated issue for many legislators, however, and it is only through conversation and connection that we will turn hearts and minds to support our work. I encourage you to be a part of this effort.
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