Richwine v. Matuszak

Death Doulas Push Back Against Unconstitutional Regulations Amicus: Filed July 3, 2024

In August 2023, the Indiana State Board of Funeral and Cemetery Service issued a cease-and-desist order to Death Done Differently, LLC — a business offering death doula services run by Lauren Richwine — to stop providing and advertising their services with the accusation they were breaking the law by operating a funeral establishment without a license. To comply would have required the doulas acquiring a funeral home with a dedicated room for storing or embalming bodies, attending mortuary school, interning for a year as a funeral director, paying hundreds in fees, and passing multiple exams covering topics unrelated to death doula services.

But an end-of-life doula is not a funeral director. They don’t store or embalm bodies and offer vastly different services than a funeral director. What doulas actually do is help families plan for someone’s passing, and provide emotional support and assistance with any needs in the days leading up to a person’s death — often as unpaid volunteers.  

Death Done Differently and Richwine brought suit in a Seventh Circuit federal case, Richwine v. Matuszak, arguing that the licensing requirements violated their First Amendment rights. Compassion & Choices filed an amicus brief  in the case supporting the rights of death doulas in Indiana and discussing the important role doulas play in patient-directed care at the end of life for dying people and their loved ones.

A decision in the case is forthcoming. This page will be updated once a decision is released.

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