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Death with Dignity
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Respect the will of the people.
Respect the will of the people.

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"Thank you, everyone, for all your support and encouragement to make the work I've done fulfilling and meaningful." -Melissa Barber, Death with Dignity National Center Director of Digital Communications
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Brittany Maynard, the heroic young woman who shared her decision to request prescribed medication allowed under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, has died. All of us at the Death with Dignity National Center would like to express our deepest condolences to her family through this very difficult time.
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"When the time comes for us to discuss physician assisted death with one of our own loved ones, we are free to express any concerns we have about their potential decision...However, we must remember: this it is not our decision to make for those whose lives we do not know."
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"The thing is, no one disputes that life has value. It's just that other things have value, too. Self-determination has value. Freedom from suffering has value. Dignity, to borrow terminology from the right-to-die/Death with Dignity movement, has value. And even death has value. It is death that makes our choices matter; it is death that makes our response to death a vital matter. "
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"I can't say which way to exit this world is best; I can't say if that final act will have any bearing on the eternal soul. I can only wonder, if given the chance again, would my dad have chosen a different path?"
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Brittany's vision for her final days are echoed by people who contact the National Center every day from every corner of the country. Sadly, policy reform around end-of-life options won't come soon enough to help the vast majority of people who call and email us. As heartbreaking as these conversations are, they make me even more passionate about this cause. No question, all people should have the right to control their own fate when facing death.
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We could all take a lesson from the irrepressible Joan Rivers. Start off with a humorous anecdote about what you want for your funeral even if it's over the top. Blurt out a segue about dying. Whatever you do, get these conversations rolling! You know best what you want for your end-of-life care and how you hope people will celebrate your life after you've died. Don't waste a minute more; tell those around you. After all, you won't live forever.
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The effort to pass Washington's Death with Dignity Act in 2008 happened with the help of hundreds of hours of work by thousands of volunteers. One prominent, dedicated volunteer before and after the campaign was Barbara Coffin. Last Tuesday, she said goodbye to her loved ones and exercised her right under Washington's law. She died in her daughter's arms.
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Part 4 of 5 in our "So you want to pass a Death with Dignity law in your state." series!
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