Advocates Pledge Continued Commitment to Improve Access to Washington’s Death With Dignity Act

February 28, 2022

Senate committee does not move bill that improves access to existing law 

(Olympia, WA)  End of Life Washington and Compassion & Choices Action Network are joining in disappointment that ESHB1141, the Improving Access to Death with Dignity Act, did not advance through the Washington Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee. The bill was sponsored by committee member Representative Skyler Rude (R) of Walla Walla, and passed quickly through the House on January 12th of this year with a bipartisan vote of 58-37.

ESHB 1141 would have amended the 2008 law, adding Advanced Practice Registered Nurses and Physician Assistants, to the list of qualified attending or consulting medical providers for individuals who want to access the law; the other provider would still need to be a licensed medical doctor.

The bill also reduced the waiting period between prescription requests from 15 days to 72 hours, allowing the attending provider to waive the waiting period entirely if the patient’s death is imminent. Crucially, this bill would have also modernized the rules around how and when individuals can obtain their aid-in-dying prescription from a pharmacy, allowing electronic prescribing and home delivery.

ESHB 1141 was designed to remove barriers that keep many qualified terminally ill Washingtonians from accessing medical aid in dying. Washingtonians who live in medically underserved areas, and those whose illnesses progress too quickly to survive the law’s 15-day waiting period, are most impacted by the failure to move this legislation.

“We are deeply disappointed to see ESHB 1141 fail to move forward,” said Elizabeth Armijo, National Advocacy Director at Compassion & Choices Action Network. “The elements of this bill would have improved access, and provided comfort, to many terminally ill Washingtonians. We are not finished, and we look forward to continuing our work alongside our amazing partners at End of Life Washington.”

“Seventy percent of our clients at End of Life Washington need support finding a supportive medical provider and 25% of our clients are dying before they reach their 15 day waiting period” End of Life Washington’s Executive Director, Judy Kinney said. “We are very disappointed that ESHB 1141 failed to be approved by the Washington Senate. The provisions provided by this bill are absolutely essential. Too many people who meet the current law’s criteria, and are following through on its guidelines, are not able to access the peace of mind and body autonomy that the law was designed to provide. Our work to increase access to this legal, basic, medical option will continue!”

ESHB 1141 would not have changed the eligibility requirements under the existing law. Individuals must still be mentally capable adults, with six months or less to live. Patients must make the request on their own behalf, must be educated by their physician on all other end-of-life care options, may be allowed to withdraw their request or decide not to use the medication, and must be able to self-ingest the medication.

The Death with Dignity Act was approved by Washington voters in 2008 and took effect in 2009. In twelve years of use in Washington and a combined decades of implementation in other states, there have been no documented instances of abuse or coercion associated with medical aid in dying.

The ten states that have authorized medical aid in dying include California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Maine, Montana (via state Supreme Court ruling), New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, as well as Washington, D.C. Collectively, these 11 jurisdictions represent one out of five U.S. residents (22%) and have decades of combined experience successfully implementing this compassionate medical practice.

The Compassion & Choices Action Network is the largest national 501(C)4 organization who is exclusively devoted to authorizing and defending federal and state policies that improve care and expand options at the end of life.

End of Life Washington is recognized nationally for its advocacy of choice for the terminally ill. We uphold Washingtonians right to the full range of end of life choices, including Death with Dignity, through advocacy, education, and support. For more information, visit

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