Civil Rights Icon Dolores Huerta Joins Legislators, Advocates in Rally for Death with Dignity Bill

Nevada Governor Honors Activist with Proclamation for ‘Dolores Huerta Day’
April 3, 2019

Civil rights icon Dolores Huerta joined legislators and medical aid-in-dying supporters to urge passage of a bill that would expand end-of-life options for terminally ill individuals in Nevada on the same day she was honored by the State Legislature. The Death with Dignity bill (SB 165), would allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to request and receive a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully if their suffering becomes unbearable.  

My mother died of terminal breast cancer that spread throughout her body, so I know first-hand about the desperate need for expanded healthcare options at the end of life,” Huerta said. “This issue is urgent for terminally ill Nevadans who cannot afford to wait for relief from unbearable suffering in their last days.”

Huerta’s visit is part of the ‘End of Life Options for ALL’ multi-state bilingual education campaign, in which she urged fellow Hispanics to join her in calling for passage of medical aid-in-dying legislation. She recently recorded videos in English and Spanish, targeting Nevada, New Jersey and New Mexico.  New Jersey recently passed medical aid-in-dying legislation, which is awaiting Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature.  Once signed into law, New Jersey will become the 9th U.S. jurisdiction to authorize medical aid in dying.

From left, Elliot Malin, Jerry and Hanna Olivas, legendary civil right rights activist Dolores Huerta, Elizabeth Armijo, and Debbie Black outside the Legislative Building in Carson City.

In addition to the news conference, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak honored Huerta by presenting a proclamation for Dolores Huerta Day. Other state and local governments throughout the country have also honored the iconic civil rights and labor activist with “Dolores Huerta Day” celebrations.

“I know if I had a terminal illness I would want this compassionate medical aid-in-dying option,” said Huerta, who turns 89 years-old on April 10. “Dying Nevadans don’t have time to wait for another legislative session, they need medical aid in dying NOW.”

Elizabeth Armijo, Nevada campaign manager for Compassion & Choices, said the bill is simply an “option that allows a person who is already going to die the option to die without unnecessary and unbearable pain.”  

The Senate Health & Human Services Committee recently voted 3 to 2 to approve the Death with Dignity Act SB 165, introduced by Sen. David Parks (D-Las Vegas). The bipartisan bill has 16 additional sponsors and cosponsors. The bill advanced to the Senate Floor and is waiting to be scheduled.

“This end-of-life care option is a matter of personal freedom and liberty to honor the wishes of terminally ill individuals,” Senator Parks said. “Nevadans should have the freedom to choose the end of life options that are right for them.”

Seventy-two percent of Nevada residents support medical aid in dying legislation. Support rose to 75 percent after respondents heard additional information about the bill, according to the survey by Public Policy Polling.

Hanna Olivas, a 44-year-old mother from Las Vegas, held back tears as she spoke about living with a rare form of multiple myeloma, an incurable cancer of the blood.

“When our Lord calls me, I do NOT want to be connected to machines, catheters and tubes that will cause more pain in my spine, bones, body, nausea, and vomiting that only debilitate my relatively young 44-year-old body,” she said. “I want to die peacefully, surrounded by my husband and our two sons, two daughters and precious grandchildren holding my hand in prayer. The last words I want to hear are “We love you, mom, We love you grandma.”

Hispanics nationwide overwhelmingly support state laws authorizing the option of medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults, so they do not have to suffer needlessly at life’s end. Thanks to support of Latinos like Dolores Huerta, Hollywood actor Mauricio Ochmann, Miguel Carrasquillo, a 35 year old former New York chef who advocated for this option before his death in his native Puerto Rico; and Dan Diaz, the husband of the late medical aid in dying advocate Brittany Maynard, today 69 percent of Latinos nationwide support medical aid in dying. Hispanic support played a key role in enacting the End of Life Option Act in California, which went into effect in 2016.  

Eight jurisdictions have authorized medical aid in dying (California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington), along with the District of Columbia. Collectively, these jurisdictions represent 19 percent of the nation’s population and 30 percent of Latinos. In addition, New Jersey passed legislation on March 25 and the bill is scheduled to be signed by the Governor, making it the ninth jurisdiction that authorizes medical aid in dying laws.

Compassion & Choices
Media Contacts

Sean Crowley
Media Relations Director
[email protected]

Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
[email protected]
(323) 819 0310

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