Historic Advancements in Medical Aid in Dying Mark a Promising Start to the 2024 Legislative Session
January Note From the President and CEO
This legislative session marks an unprecedented start for the end-of-life options movement, buoyed by significant media attention, influential endorsements and encouraging victories. The powerful media coverage so far includes an impactful op-ed in the New York Times by columnist Steve Petrow about his own sister’s experience with the New Jersey law and a compelling column in the Boston Globe about our courageous storyteller Lynda Shannon Bluestein’s experience as the first out-of-state resident using Vermont’s recently amended law.
In the legislative arena, we're witnessing an impressive trend with medical aid in dying being introduced in18 states, and we have already secured historic victories in three: New York, Virginia and Minnesota.
The New York State Bar Association’s House of Delegates and Women’s Bar Association voted to support the passage of the New York Medical Aid in Dying Act. This endorsement by the voice of New York’s lawyers adds substantial credibility to our campaign and is a pivotal step in potentially influencing key lawmakers.
For the first time since its introduction in 2019, Virginia’s medical aid-in-dying bill has made significant headway, with the approval of not one but two committees last week. This achievement mirrors our progress in Minnesota, where after nearly a decade of relentless support from donors and volunteers, the House Health Finance and Policy Committee voted favorably to advance HB1930, the End-of-Life Option Act. These votes mark monumental victories, underscoring how persistence and resilience can influence even the most entrenched systems toward more just policies.
Maryland is gearing up for a pivotal time with scheduled Senate and House hearings and a lobby day in February. Additionally, improvement bills in New Jersey and Colorado signify a growing recognition of the importance of making sure these laws are accessible to eligible residents. Check out our Advocacy in Action page for current updates on what is happening in the states.
This combination of media exposure, endorsements and legislative progress presents the strongest start to a legislative session we've ever seen in this movement. It's a hopeful indication that advocacy for choice at life’s end is gaining ground and could lead to significant victories.
As we revel in these successes, we still have considerable work in each state to move from progress to victory. Furthermore, we must protect existing medical aid-in-dying laws in three states (California, New Jersey and Washington) from efforts to invalidate or weaken them. We cannot take this work for granted.
The journey toward compassionate and equitable end-of-life options is a collective effort that requires the participation and support of lawmakers, advocates and individuals who believe in the dignity of choice at life's end. We encourage everyone to join us in this endeavor — by sharing stories, contacting legislators or spreading awareness. Together, we can make compassionate end-of-life care a reality for all.