Last month I was preparing for our annual meeting and it helped give me a sense of perspective on what we have accomplished and what we are working toward.
At the start of the last fiscal year our board of directors, active volunteers and I did not know how the year would progress.
We were preparing for the possibility that Senator Tavares would introduce aid in dying legislation. We had introduced her and her fantastic aides to Oregon’s model legislation that was made available by Death with Dignity National Center. But we did not know if and when she would act.
On January 24, 2018 Senator Tavares introduced Senate Bill 249. Senators Kenny Yuko and Joe Schiavoni signed on as co-sponsors.
In less than two years from its inception, Ohio End of Life Options has played an instrumental role in moving this discussion forward in Ohio.
After legislation was introduced, we responded to all requests for interviews. We were quoted in newspaper articles and were interviewed on NPR and other radio programs. Our messaging has been consistent in pointing out the law’s safeguards and it’s proven record of working as written and without abuse. We refute misleading and incorrect claims made by opponents with facts gleaned from a collective 40 years of experience in states with laws.
Growing Support for Aid in Dying
We have been growing the ranks of supporters to help move the discussion forward. We then set about growing our email contact list and our Facebook community.
We knocked on doors at the State House and were invited to present at churches, synagogues, universities, community events and medical groups.
Everywhere we’ve gone we have talked not only about the importance of aid in dying legislation, but also the importance of understanding peoples’ end-of-life wishes. We have asked people to start these conversations and then take a step further and document them in advance directives and by appointing healthcare proxies.
We have solicited donations so that we could hold meetings and visit supporters around Ohio. Feel free to request our Annual Funding Report to understand how we use your donations. As a new all-volunteer, grass-roots organization, using your donations well is of utmost importance.
We do this because we firmly believe that aid in dying is a part of end-of-life healthcare and should be an option in Ohio. In addition to excellent hospice care, aid in dying is an option that gives the terminally ill peace, comfort and control.
Now, we have more work to do.
This year we are planning on increasing our outreach and continuing to organize our strategy. We need more Ohioans to understand the importance of aid in dying as a legal option.
And we ask that you to express your support in your communities, faith organizations, medical organizations and to your legislators. SB 249 will move forward when many Ohioans make it clear that it is important to them.
We have the tools for you to use to start this discussion. And with more trained speakers, we are also happy to come and talk to your group.
Please visit our website: OhioOptions.org to take action.
New Year and New Board Leadership
I am pleased to announce that Molly McMahon Graziano was elected as the new Chairperson of our Board of Directors during our annual meeting. As our volunteer Director of Education and Outreach, Molly has already logged many miles throughout Ohio helping to raise awareness about Death with Dignity. She is a passionate and tireless advocate. She wants people to understand and have access to all end-of-life options in Ohio. Molly’s background with nonprofit organization management has already added valuable experience to our group’s efforts.
I want to thank our outgoing Chairperson, Susan Spinell. She started as a steering committee member in September 2015 and was instrumental in Ohio End of Life Options acquiring its 501(c)3 status in March of 2016. Thanks to Susan’s experience with nonprofit organizations and her passion for structure, Ohio End of Life Options is being run efficiently and responsibly. I am grateful that Susan remains on our board and continues providing guidance.
–Lisa Vigil Schattinger, MSN, RN, Executive Director