Every person in Washington deserves to be empowered to choose end-of-life care that reflects their values, priorities, and beliefs. Washington's Death with Dignity Act has made that possible since 2009, but it needs the crucial updates included in ESHB 1141 to ensure the benefits of the law extend to all Washingtonians.
Right now, there are extreme disparities when it comes to who is able to access the law. The 2018 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, proving the stark disparities in medical care and treatment for Black and brown Washingtonians brought to light again by COVID-19 expand to end-of-life care. And, finally, those who cannot survive the 20 day waiting period between first requesting medical aid in dying and receiving their prescription lose the option to choose a peaceful death.
ESHB 1141 would help address these disparities by (1) allowing Advanced Practice Nurse Practitioners and Physician's Assistants to prescribe medical aid in dying -- allowing more Washingtonians access to healthcare providers who support compassion end-of-life care -- and (2) making the compassionate choice to wave the waiting period for those who will not survive 20 days on the discretion of their doctor.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed many of the disparities in our healthcare system, and ESHB 1141 is one way to ensure every person in Washington can choose a peaceful end of life on their own terms.
Dear [elected official],
I acknowledge that this legislative cycle was a unique one, with competing priorities, but I am disappointed that ESHB 1141: Improving the Death with Dignity Act did not get called for a vote in the Senate before the deadline on April 11. Terminally-ill Washingtonians cannot wait for better access to the Death with Dignity Act. Common sense improvements are necessary for those seeking access to a peaceful death. I thank you for your continued dedication to improve the lives of all Washingtonians, but I urge you to take immediate action on this issue when this legislation comes up again for a vote.
[Your comment here]
[Your name here]