This was an unprecedented election year, as COVID-19 took hold of our nation, shutting down normal legislative sessions coast to coast in early March so lawmakers could focus on the immediate health and economic needs of their constituents. The pandemic brought a deeper understanding of the fragility of our lives and the importance of ensuring all Americans have the full range of end-of-life care options, including medical aid in dying as an option for terminally ill adults to peacefully end unbearable suffering.
Since 1994, nine states and Washington, D.C., have authorized medical aid in dying. Extraordinary momentum during the last five years (six authorizations) continued into 2020 until the pandemic forced early legislative closures. (PLEASE NOTE: as of April 8, 2021, there are now 11 jurisdictions that have authorized this practice)
Over the course of the 2019 and 2020 legislative sessions, nearly 400 lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, in 24 legislatures in every region of the country, signed onto medical aid-in-dying bills as sponsors or co-sponsors.
What’s been made clear from the data on two successive election cycles: There is little impact on primary and general reelection prospects for state legislative aid-in-dying bill sponsors. The reelection rate for 2018 was 92%; it increased to 95% in 2020.
Constituents across the nation are thanking their lawmakers for introducing and supporting legislation that promotes patient autonomy by authorizing the practice of medical aid in dying.