Death with Dignity National Center

Death with Dignity National Center
Death with Dignity National Center
Motto Respect the will of the people
Formation 1993
Type Education, defense and advocacy
Headquarters Portland, Oregon
Location United States
Staff 7

Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC) is a nonprofit organization located in Portland, Oregon which has led the defense of and education about Death with Dignity laws throughout the US. It partners with Oregon Death with Dignity Political Action Fund, a 501(c)(4), which lobbies to enact Death with Dignity laws in other states.



"The mission of the Death with Dignity National Center (DDNC) is to provide information, education, research and support for the preservation, implementation and promotion of Death with Dignity laws which allow a terminally ill, mentally competent adult the right to request and receive a prescription to hasten death under certain specific safeguards. We promote Death with Dignity laws based on our model legislation, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, as a stimulus to nationwide improvements in end-of-life care and as an option for dying individuals. We accomplish our mission by working to defend and promote Death with Dignity laws in court, and in the court of public opinion through our nonprofit Death with Dignity National Center [501(c)(3)], and by working directly with public policymakers through our affiliated Political Action Fund [501(c)(4)]."[1]


In 1993 Oregon Right to Die, a political action committee, was founded to draft and pass Oregon's Death with Dignity ballot measure 16.[2] After Measure 16 passed in 1994 the Oregon Death with Dignity Legal Defense and Education Center was founded to defend the voter approved law. Also in 1994 the Death with Dignity National Center formed in Washington DC to help defend and promote Death with Dignity laws throughout the United States.

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.[3][4] Another alliance member, Compassion in Dying, later merged with End-of-Life Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society) and became Compassion and Choices.

A few prominent and long-standing board members include Eli D. Stutsman, Betty Rollin, and Timothy Quill:

  • Eli D. Stutsman, J.D.[5] is Death with Dignity National Center's founding board member and co-author of the Oregon law. On behalf of the Death with Dignity National Center, Eli represented Oregon pharmacists and physicians who were threatened prosecution by John Ashcroft.[6][7]
  • Betty Rollin has been an NBC News correspondent, New York Times best selling author and Death with Dignity activist. She's written five books including First, You Cry (1976) about her experience with breast cancer and Last Wish (1985) in which she recounts helping to hasten her mother's death.
  • Timothy E. Quill, M.D. is a Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry, and Medical Humanities at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.[8] He is the author of several books on end-of life, including Physician-Assisted Dying: The Case for Palliative Care and Patient Choice (2004), Caring for Patients at the End of Life: Facing an Uncertain Future Together (2001), and A Midwife Through the Dying Process: Stories of Healing and Hard Choices at the End of Life (1996).

Political Activism

Through its different organizational structures over the years, Death with Dignity National Center has played a central role in defending and upholding Oregon's Death with Dignity law[9], culminating in the Supreme Court case Gonzales v. Oregon.[10][11][12]

The organization has assisted with efforts to pass Death with Dignity laws in other states such as Maine in 2000[13] and Hawaii in 2002[14][15][16]. The most recent effort led to the voter approved Washington Death with Dignity Act in 2008.[17]


  1. ^ "About Death with Dignity National Center". 
  2. ^ "The Physician-Assisted Suicide Oregon Trail". Final Exit. 
  3. ^ "Death with Dignity movement history". Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization. 
  4. ^ "Death with Dignity National Center chronology". Death with Dignity National Center. 
  5. ^ "Eli D. Stutsman Death with Dignity Biography". 
  6. ^ Greenhouse, Linda (February 23, 2005). "Justices Accept Oregon Case Weighing Assisted Suicide". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Supreme Court of the United States Brief for the Respondents". [dead link]
  8. ^ "University of Rochester Medical Center". 
  9. ^ "Arguments in Opposition of Ballot Measure 51". Oregon State Elections Division. 
  10. ^ "Full text of the Supreme Court's decision". Supreme Court of the United States. 
  11. ^ Lane, Charles (2005-02-23). "Justices to Hear Challenge to Oregon Assisted-Suicide Law". The Washington Post. 
  12. ^ Lewin, Adrienne Mand. "Supreme Court Upholds Oregon Assisted Suicide Law". ABC News. 
  13. ^ "Ballotopedia Maine Physician-assisted Deaths Question One". 
  14. ^ Arakawa, Lynda. "Bill on Assisted Suicide Advances". The Honolulu Advertiser. 
  15. ^ Pang, Gordon Y.K.. "'Death with Dignity' Bill Shelved". The Honolulu Advertiser. 
  16. ^ "History of the 2002 Near Win". Hawai`i Death with Dignity Society. 
  17. ^ "Yes on I-1000 Contributors". National Institute on Money in State Politics. 

See also

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