Death with Dignity Act:
Faced with terminal diagnosis, Washingtonians have a right to a full range of options for care at the end-of-life, including medical-aid-in-dying. Medical aid in dying allows terminally ill adults to get a prescription they can take to end their life peacefully; on their terms. The Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill, mentally capable Washington residents to access medical-aid-in-dying and was approved by Washington voters in 2008 and took effect in 2009.
ESHB 1141 Overview:
Skyler Rude, State Representative from the 16th Legislative District introduced ESHB 1141: Increasing access to Death with Dignity act to reduce Washingtonian’s needless suffering at the end of their life. After 12 years of experience supporting individuals accessing the Death with Dignity law, it is clear that some of the protections in the bill lead to increased suffering.
ESHB 1141: Increasing access to the Death with Dignity act
- Waiting period shortened from 15 days to 72 hours with additional authority of qualified medical provider to waive the waiting period if needed (if death is expected before 72 hours).
- Increased accessibility for prescription: electronic requests would be available in addition to faxed requests and medications can be received by mail, courier or an authorized pick-up.
- Qualified medical providers: Expands prescribing and consulting roles from physicians to Physician Assistants & Nurse Practitioners
The bill keeps intact the same basic eligibility requirements and core safeguards that have always protected vulnerable patients while ensuring the law achieves its original intention.
There are additional disparities when it comes to who can access the law. The most recent data from the Washington Department of Health Death with Dignity Act showed that 86% of those prescribed medical aid in dying lived west of the Cascades. This means that those living in Eastern Washington have fewer options when it comes to accessing end-of-life care. Additionally, 96% of those who requested medical aid in dying were white, reflecting the stark disparities in medical care and treatment for Black and brown Washingtonians.
People with a terminal illness do not have the luxury to wait; they need this option now. We encourage you to listen to Washingtonians and ensure lasting and meaningful access to medical aid in dying for residents who need this option now.
How you can help:
Sharing your personal stories and commitment to expanding end-of-life choices, such as Death with Dignity, encourages our legislators to pass these important updates to our Death with Dignity law.