Gabriella: How did you get involved in the league?
Mary: I joined the Greater Tucson League when I attended my first Issues and Eggs event in March 2020. I looked around and saw the enthusiasm in the room, a great panel discussion and the veritable ‘who’s who’ of politically active Tucsonans and thought “I want to be a part of this!”
Gabriella: What are your thoughts on the league's white paper on End of Life Choices a few years ago?
Mary: The White Paper of 2013 did a good job of describing the Oregon Model (their law is known as the Death with Dignity Act) for medical aid in dying (MAID). It also explains the viewpoints of the opposition and the proponents in a good, thorough way. There’s 20 pages of references and appendices so the research was quite detailed.
Some of the information remains the same but some of the data needs to be updated. For example, only four states allowed MAID as an option when the White Paper was written; now six more states plus Washington, DC. have passed similar laws. Many see this as a civil right, a patients rights issue and an end of life choice to be made between a doctor and patient. Several states have a LWV concurrence for MAID already.
Gabriella: How did you get involved with the Medical Aid in Dying Movement?
Mary: I had a senior home care business in Green Valley for five years called Seniors Helping Seniors. I saw firsthand how clients and their families struggled with end of life issues and made difficult decisions about palliative care and hospice. I realized the importance of advance directives, having an advocate when you’re hospitalized and education about aging well and dying well.
I also learned that there was a history of a grassroots movement in Arizona to pass a MAID law and wanted to contribute to the momentum that was occurring across the country in some small way. Bills have been proposed in the Arizona state legislature for years but now the goal would be to have the bill finally debated in committee.
Gabriella: What work has been done in other states to pass laws?
Mary: Montana passed the law through a state Supreme Court decision and the other states passed either through a ballot initiative (Oregon, Washington, Colorado) or through legislation (Vermont, California, DC, Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico). One thing they all have in common: they are backed by a nonpartisan grassroots group of passionate advocates who work tirelessly to educate voters and lawmakers.
Constituents telling the stories of their loved one’s last months and days is a powerful way people share their passion about this issue with their lawmakers. Additionally, the two national groups Compassion and Choices and Death with Dignity National Center help with research, campaign advise, community organizing, etc.
Mary will be the moderator for our Voter Education Program on Medical Aid in Dying on September 18th at 10am.