Rep. Skyler Rude introduces legislation relating to Washington state’s Death with Dignity Act

Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Walla Walla, has introduced legislation to create a study through the University of Washington to understand the barriers related to patients accessing the state's Death with Dignity Act.

The Washington state Death with Dignity Act was passed by voters through the initiative process ten years ago. The Act allows adult state residents that have a terminal illness, with six months or less to live, to request medication that the patient may self-administer to end their life.

House Bill 2419 would require the University of Washington to conduct a study and report on the barriers associated with Washington resident's access to the Death with Dignity Act. The report will be submitted to the Legislature and governor to determine if action needs to be taken to amend current law.

“This is an issue I care deeply about,” said Rude. “This bill is responsive to a 16th District resident who was unable to access the law due to barriers with how the law is currently written.”

As was heard during public testimony in the House Health Care and Wellness Committee by Mrs. Donna Coffeen of Walla Walla:

“My husband was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in 2003. He knew the final stages of his disease would be physically and mentally debilitating. When the Death with Dignity Act was passed, he was relieved.  But our hopes fell when one of two hospitals in our area closed. The doctors who were going to help my husband administer his final medication under the Act no longer could due to contracts with their hospital. As it stands, current law isn't enough. Debilitating diseases are becoming more common. Many want to be able to use this law. There needs to be alternatives for people like my husband.”

“Death is a personal event. Unfortunately, the Death with Dignity Act is inaccessible to many individuals who would like to use it, like with Mr. Coffeen,” continued Rude. “My bill is a simple, yet important study to identify the barriers to accessing this voter-approved law.”

House Bill 2419 awaits further action by the House Health Care and Wellness Committee.

The 60-day legislative session is scheduled to conclude on March 12.


Washington State House Republican Communications