In 2008, Washington passed the Death with Dignity law. This law states:
- An individual who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and determined to have less than six months to live, may request their PCP, or another doctor, to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to end their life.
- Doctors are not required to comply, and the individual may request the drug from another physician.
- The individual must make both verbal and written requests, with at least fifteen days between requests
- The individual must be assessed by their doctor to be of sound mind, making the decision freely.
- The patient must be able to take the medication by their own hand.
Since that time, the vast majority of people making use of Death with Dignity—around 200 each year—do so in their own homes. It is worth noting that the term “physician-assisted suicide” is discouraged from use, and the phrase “physician-assisted death” is preferred.
Not all hospitals and nursing homes elect to comply with patients’ Death with Dignity request.
After much consideration, including conversations with lawyers, Shoreline UU church has offered its sacred space to two individuals in the past. Several other congregations in the Northwest have done the same. We at KUUF have been asked if we would allow our sacred space to be used by a person living in a facility that does not allow its residents this option.
We will not rush into such a decision. Whatever conclusion we reach, we must act with clearness and compassion. The individual who made the request of KUUF has found another place, so that request is not pressing now. However, as a caring community who values the worth and dignity of every person, we as a Fellowship need to consider how we will respond if and when that request is made again.
Over several upcoming Sundays, the Board will hold Conversations with the Board, specifically to hear your thoughts and/or concerns on this important issue. If hosting end-of-life passages becomes a reality at KUUF, it would remain very private for the individual and their family. Our office staff would make sure nothing else is scheduled for our Sanctuary, to protect the privacy of all concerned.
You can learn more about the WA Death with Dignity Act at these websites, among others:
The Order of Service will announce the dates for our discussion. Help us listen to what you think. Please join us.