Proposed by the Northern Virginia Ethical Society, amended and passed by the 105th AEU Assembly in August 2020
Whereas the American Ethical Union and the Humanist Association were founded on the principles of the dignity and worth of each person, reverence for life, and freedom of belief among others.
A resolution was passed by the AEU in 2003 in support of decriminalization of the furnishing of a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs by a physician to an adult patient with full decision-making capacity.
Whereas nine states and the District of Columbia support Death with Dignity by allowing terminally ill patients to have control over their end of life. These states include Oregon (26 years), Montana (10 years); Washington (11 years), Vermont (7 years), California and Colorado (4 years), Washington DC (2 years) and New Jersey, Hawaii, and Maine (1 year).
Whereas the currently accepted definition of terminal illness is generally that the person is afflicted with an illness, condition, or disease that has no cure and will imminently lead to death.
Therefore Be it Resolved that The American Ethical Union urges its member societies and affiliates and their members to take action in support of Death with Dignity legislation in each state when appropriate. Such legislation would allow terminally ill, mentally competent adult state residents legally to obtain a prescription for medications to end their life peacefully, in a dignified way, at the place and time of their choosing. Such legislation would permit qualified terminally ill patients to choose to end needless suffering by advancing the time of their approaching death. It would also provide peace of mind for many residents in having access to the option of aid in dying, even if they do not exercise that option. Such legislation should include protection for physicians who supply such prescriptions.
Recommended actions, both for individuals and for member Societies and affiliated organizations, include contacting elected representatives in their state legislatures asking that they support such legislation; joining an action network, such as Compassion and Choices; and signing a pledge to support such legislation.