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'm writing to you today to follow-up on the packet of information about increasing access to the Death with Dignity Act that you recently received from Compassion & Choices Action Network and End of Life Washington. This legislation is really important to me, and I urge you to vote in support of reducing barriers, increasing access, and centering the patient in end-of-life care in our state.
Terminally-ill Washingtonians cannot wait for better access to compassionate end-of-life care. They need you to act this legislative session. Please vote in support of ESHB 1141: Increasing Access to the Death with Dignity Act. Thank you for everything you are doing to protect the health and safety of everyone in our state.
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