By Robb Miller
Compassion & Choices of Washington
An amazing thing happened in Olympia, Washington last month. In a legislative hearing room, representatives of Compassion & Choices of Washington and the Washington State Catholic Conference sat down before a budget committee. Together they successfully advocated the restoration of funding to produce the Death With Dignity Act’s (DWDA) annual report.
On what issue do the Catholic Conference and Compassion & Choices of Washington agree? We both want the accountability that reports by the Department of Health provide. On an annual basis, these reports show the DWDA is working as voters intended, and vulnerable people are protected from abuse.
We learned that the DWDA reporting funds were targeted for elimination at 11am on Monday, December 12th. Kate White Tudor testified on behalf of Compassion & Choices of Washington in favor of restored funding that afternoon. Thanks to an amendment offered by Representative Reuven Carlyle (with support of Eileen Cody and the Ways & Means chair Ross Hunter), the House Ways & Means Committee amended the budget bill to restore funds for DWDA reporting, The amendment was retained as part of the bill when it passed the House floor Tuesday evening and a similar amendment process restored funding on the Senate side.
We consider ourselves the steward of the DWDA and continually advocate its impeccable implementation. State reports repeatedly confirm the safety of physician aid in dying. The accumulated knowledge from Oregon and Washington is an invaluable resource to other states and nations seeking to expand end-of-life choice for their citizens.
Aid in dying must become an open, accepted end-of-life care option, integrated into standard medical practice. When we shine a light on its practice we help reach that end. The state’s annual report is an important tool to ensure the practice has no unintended consequences – and on that, we and the Catholic Conference can agree.