March 31, 2018

Aid in dying support growing

Pew Trust -At least 25 states [are] considering aid-in-dying bills this year according to the Denver-based advocacy group Compassion and Choices, and advocates think momentum is on their side.

Support for aid-in-dying is increasing — a recent Gallup poll found two-thirds in favor, up from half four years earlier. Major medical groups have dropped or softened their opposition. And increasing life spans, while generally a positive development, mean that more Americans are watching their parents die drawn-out, agonizing deaths.

Oregon voters legalized aid-in-dying — sometimes referred to as “death-with-dignity” or “assisted suicide” — by approving a ballot measure in 1994 (a court injunction delayed implementation until 1997). Washington state voters followed suit in 2008 (it took effect in 2009), and a court ruling made it legal in Montana in 2009. Since 2013, Colorado, California, Vermont and the District of Columbia have legalized it, either through ballot initiative or legislation.

Advocates are particularly optimistic about a breakthrough in Hawaii where just this week the House sent an aid-in-dying bill to the state Senate on a 39-12 vote. They also expect success in New Jersey and perhaps in New York and Massachusetts as well, thanks to recent changes in the composition of the legislatures and, in the case of New Jersey, the governor’s office.

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