PORTLAND, Ore., March 10, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and at least 15 states have introduced bills to authorize the medical option of aid in dying since Compassion & Choices released a video-recorded call to action by Brittany Maynard on Nov. 19, the same day that would have been her 30th birthday. Currently, only five states - Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico - authorize this medical practice.
All of the bills were introduced during a seven-week period between Jan. 8 and Feb. 24 in states across the political spectrum. They include five blue states (California, Hawaii, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island), five purple states (Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Montana, Wisconsin) and six red states (Alaska, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming). Today, March 10, there is a hearing scheduled on the Maryland legislation before the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. Next Monday, March 16, there is a hearing scheduled on the Connecticut bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In addition, aid-in-dying bills re-introduced in Connecticut and Massachusetts this year had 16 and 24 more sponsors, respectively, than when they were introduced last year. Finally, last November, the New Jersey Assembly passed an aid-in-dying bill on a bipartisan vote, only 12 days after Brittany died.
"This tidal wave of action and bill introductions is a testament to our powerful partnership with Brittany Maynard's family to fulfill her mission to make aid in dying an authorized medical option for dying adults throughout America," said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, an attorney, former ER and ICU nurse who coauthored the Oregon death-with-dignity law that Maynard utilized to end her agonizing suffering from terminal brain cancer.
"I hope for the sake of other American citizens all these people that I'm speaking to that I've never met, that I'll never meet, that this choice be extended to you, that this right. That we mobilize, that we vocalize, that we start to talk about it," said Brittany in her video-recorded call to action on Nov. 19 posted at www.TheBrittanyFund.org. "I know my family will continue to carry this torch along for me"
"Brittany's wish is coming true. The tireless, very public advocacy of her husband, Dan Diaz, and mother, Debbie Ziegler, is a major reason for our auspicious campaign launch since Brittany's call to action," Coombs Lee said. "Now we urge Brittany's thousands of supporters to visit www.TheBrittanyFund.org so they can tell their state legislators to pass these aid-in-dying bills in her honor."
To date, over five million people have visited the www.TheBrittanyFund.org, and more than 50,000 people have sent letters urging state legislators to pass legislation to authorize medical aid in dying for mentally competent, terminally ill adults.
The jurisdictions, bill names and introduction dates in 2015 are listed below in chronological order.
About Compassion & Choices Compassion & Choices is the oldest and largest national non-profit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life. To learn more about Compassion & Choices visit www.compassionandchoices.org.