Death with Dignity National Center
The mission of the Death with Dignity National Center is to promote death with dignity laws based on our model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, both to provide an option for dying individuals and to stimulate nationwide improvements in end-of-life care.
Death with Dignity National Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that
expands the freedom of all qualified terminally ill Americans to make their own end-of-life decisions, including how they die;
promotes death with dignity laws around the United States based on the groundbreaking Oregon model;
provides information, education, and support about Death with Dignity as an end-of-life option to patients, family members, legislators, advocates, healthcare and end-of-life care professionals, media, and the interested public.
mounts legal defense of physician-assisted dying legislation.
The greatest human freedom is to live and die according to our own desires and beliefs.
Death with Dignity Political Fund
…is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that acts as the political arm of the National Center. The Fund
drafts death with dignity laws based on the Oregon model;
campaigns, lobbies, and advocates for death with dignity legislation in the states that lack it.
We authored, passed, and defended the Oregon law (1994/1997/2006); spearheaded the successful efforts to pass death with dignity statutes in Washington (2008), Vermont (2013), California (2015), Washington, DC (2017), Hawaii (2018), and Maine (2019), and led campaigns in Massachusetts (2012), Nevada (2017), and many other campaigns.
Our Unique Brand of Advocacy
Both the Death with Dignity National Center and Death with Dignity Political Fund bring a unique brand of advocacy and political strategy to end-of-life care policy reform.
Our work centers around insider organizing with politically savvy legislative and community leaders who are endeavoring to enact death with dignity statutes through the state legislative process.
This is the style of policy work that seeks not to draw attention to our organization, but rather focuses on the assisted dying movement and the behind-the-scenes efforts necessary to move legislation through the political process.
We work directly with legislators to craft the best bills possible and shepherd them through the legislative process by providing political strategy guidance and other support.
For example, in the District of Columbia the Death with Dignity National Center has been at the center of legislative efforts since Day 1. On the day Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the Death with Dignity Act of 2015, her office requested assistance from us with shepherding the bill through the Council. From that point on, we have been by Councilmember Cheh and her colleagues’ side to get the bill passed. We visited with several Councilmembers and gave testimony at a public hearing on the Oregon and Washington experiences as well as clear evidence to counter opponent’s fear-based arguments. We worked directly with Councilmembers, whether through private communications or conference calls, to give them the evidence they need to make an informed decision and debunk the opposition’s lies. To support the Councilmember’s work, we commissioned a research poll, which showed that 67% of D.C. residents support the law. We also engaged supporters in the D.C. area to encourage the Council to support the measure and sponsored Facebook ads and a Change.org petition to engage D.C. residents on the issue. Finally, we were interviewed by the Washington Post‘s editorial board for paper’s two endorsements of the legislation.
In California our experts reviewed and revised every version and amendment of the bill; provided expert guidance from the experience of passing and implementing similar laws in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont; and helped prepare sponsors and witnesses for hearings and meetings.
This behind-the-scenes political and advocacy leadership is urgently important to our success.
We partner with local advocates, grassroots groups, and organizations, providing them with technical assistance in terms of strategy, online organizing, or fundraising, and looking to them for their local expertise and leadership in order to bring death with dignity to their state.
In Vermont we were the only national organization active during the entire 10 years of political work it took to achieve legislative reform. We partnered with Patient Choices Vermont to help craft the law and provide strategic support for its passage; educate residents and interest groups about its benefits; and raise funds to underwrite the campaign.
We are currently supporting the work of grassroots groups/nonprofit organizations in Maine, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and advocates in several other states.
To promote death with dignity laws based on model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, both to provide an option for dying individuals and to stimulate nationwide improvements in end-of-life care.
Death with Dignity National Center is a 501(c)(3)nonpartisannonprofit organization, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, that has led the legal defense of and education about Death with Dignity laws throughout the United States for more than 25 years. The Death with Dignity National Center helped write and defend in courts the nation's first successful assisted dying law, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, protecting the right of persons with terminal illness to control their own death. The Death with Dignity National Center is affiliated with the Death with Dignity Political Fund, a distinct and separately incorporated 501(c)(4) organization responsible for the promotion of death with dignity legislation in other states around the U.S.
"The mission of the Death with Dignity National Center is to promote death with dignity laws based on our model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, both to provide an option for dying individuals and to stimulate nationwide improvements in end-of-life care."
In 1993 Oregon Right to Die, a political action committee, was founded to draft and pass Oregon's Death with Dignity ballot measure 16. The following year the Oregon Right to Die PAC (ORDPAC) campaigned successfully for the passage of Measure 16 in Oregon; 51% of Oregon voters approved the death with dignity ballot initiative which created the Oregon Death With Dignity Act allowing those who are terminally ill to hasten death in consultation with their physician and under strict safeguards, making Oregon the first U.S. state and one of the first jurisdictions in the world to officially do so. Subsequently, the Oregon Death with Dignity Legal Defense and Education Center (ODLDEC), the forerunner to the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded to defend the voter-approved law. In 1997, Oregon Right to Die Political Action Committee successfully defeated Measure 51, an attempt to ban death with dignity in Oregon, by a margin of 60% to 40%.
After the successful collaboration of the Death with Dignity Alliance starting in 1997 three of the organizations in the alliance—Oregon Death with Dignity, Oregon Death with Dignity Legal Defense and Education Center, and Death with Dignity National Center—merged and became Death with Dignity National Center and Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund in 2004. Another alliance member, Compassion in Dying, later merged with End-of-Life Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) and became Compassion and Choices.
In 2000 Death with Dignity National Center led the effort on Question 1, the death with dignity campaign in Maine. The measure lost by a narrow margin, 51% to 49%, with only a 6,000 vote difference statewide. In 2001 Death with Dignity National Center partnered with activists in Vermont to establish death with dignity Vermont, and in 2002 Death with Dignity National Center launched an effort in Hawaii to pass death with dignity legislation through the legislative process. In 2003 ODLDEC is renamed the Death with Dignity National Center.
From 2001 to 2006 Death with Dignity National Center defended Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act against U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft and his successor Alberto Gonzales who attempted to block DWD by authorizing federal drug agents to prosecute doctors who help terminally ill patients die. In January 2006, the US Supreme Court ruled 6-3 in the case of Gonzales v. Oregon, that former Attorney General John Ashcroft overstepped his authority in attempting to prosecute Oregon’s physicians and pharmacists.
In 2008 Death with Dignity National Center successfully led the coalition for Yes on I-1000, Washington State’s death with dignity campaign, to a 58%-42% win. Washington’s Death with Dignity law went into effect in March 2009.
In 2011, Death with Dignity National Center partnered with Patient Choices Vermont to help pass Death with Dignity legislation through their legislature. Vermont Governor Shumlin signed the Vermont Patient Choice and Control at End of Life into law in 2013. In the meantime, Death with Dignity National Center established Dignity 2012 to pass death with dignity legislation in Massachusetts. The issue made it on the November ballot and was narrowly (51% to 49%) defeated.
Death with Dignity National Center is a 501(c)(3) organization governed by a Board of Directors. Current members include:
PORTLAND, OR 97204-1510 | Tax-exempt since Dec. 1995
Classification (NTEE) Right to Die, Euthanasia Issues (Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy)
Nonprofit Tax Code Designation: 501(c)(3) Defined as: Organizations for any of the following purposes: religious, educational, charitable, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition (as long as it doesn’t provide athletic facilities or equipment), or the prevention of cruelty to children or animals.
Donations to this organization are tax deductible.