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While our advocacy efforts span a wide variety of topics, below are the current legislative targets of the Order.


Help Expand Green Death Care Options in Maryland

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A hearing on Maryland’s Green Death Care Bill is scheduled for March 5, 2024. This hearing is open for public comment, which means Maryland residents are invited to share their opinions on Senate Bill 1028 which aims to expand green death care options in the state to allow both human composting and aquamation, an eco-friendly alternative to cremation.

There are two ways you can voice your support:

Zoom: This option allows you to virtually speak to legislators during the hearing on March 5th. For this option you must register on the Maryland General Assembly (MGA) website on Friday, March 1st, or Monday, March 4th.

Email: This option allows you to send a written statement. To do so you will need to send through the Maryland General Assembly (MGA) website on Friday, March 1st, or Monday, March 4th. Written statements must be sent as a pdf.

For detailed instructions and more info go to the House Judiciary Committee Guidelines.

Not sure what to say? Speak from the heart! Your representatives want to understand why you would choose composting or aquamation for yourself or your family. What makes green death care a meaningful option to you? Let them know! For more ideas you can find a letter sample over on our Support Composting Legislation page.

Please know that your actions make a significant difference! On numerous occasions lawmakers have remarked on the surprising number of letters received in support of green death care options, and the impact your words have had on their decision to support a bill.


Olive green background with hand pointing upwards emerging from mushrooms with text above stating

Updating the Federal Trade Commission’s Funeral Rule

Background

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is considering updating and strengthening The Funeral Rule, a regulation that protects consumers by requiring funeral homes to provide consumers with prices if requested in-person or by phone, to include other forms of communication like email, and websites. Since the Funeral Rule was created in the 1980s it doesn’t include modern forms of communication like emails and texting, or websites. We know that consumers can potentially save thousands of dollars on funeral costs by shopping around and comparing prices, however the FTC’s 2020 review found that over 60% of funeral homes had little to no pricing information on their websites. This update would not only be beneficial to everyone, but it has the potential to improve access for disabled, low income, and non-English speaking communities, as well as families planning funerals out-of-state.

The FTC is considering a number of updates in addition to online price disclosure including clarifying the language around embalming, and including options like green burial, aquamation, and human composting.

What We Are Doing

The Order believes that funeral pricing and practices should be transparent and accessible so the public can make informed choices, and avoid paying for goods and services they do not want or need. Earlier this year the Order launched a campaign to inform the public about the FTC soliciting comments about the proposed changes to the Funeral Rule and how it could impact them.

In May 2023 the FTC reached out to the Order to request a meeting to get our input on the proposed Funeral Rule changes. In June and July we had two meetings with the FTC in which we advocated for consumer rights, transparency of pricing, and expanding accessibility. At the invitation  of the FTC we participated alongside other leading experts at their Funeral Rule Workshop where we addressed the proposed changes and advocated for protecting and expanding your rights.

What You Can Do

The period for public commenting has closed.

Status

In 2024 the FTC sent warning letters to funeral homes following an undercover phone sweep conducted the previous year, which found that dozens of funeral establishments were in violation of the Funeral Rule.


Graphic with blue background. Illustration features white outline of city and a cactus. Text reads attention lone star freedom lovers, do you think Texans should have the freedom to choose aquamation when they die?

Legalize Aquamation in Texas

Background

SB105 has been filed by Senator Nathan Johnson (District 16, Dallas County) to clarify the legality of alkaline hydrolysis, (aka water cremation), a greener alternative to cremation, in Texas.

What We Are Doing

The Order has partnered with Live Free, Die Free Texas to support efforts to pass this legislation.

What You Can Do

You can take action now by signing this petition urging lawmakers to give Texans the freedom to choose what happens to their bodies in death.

Status

Bill was referred to the Public Health Committee for review in March 2023.


Human Composting, aka Natural Organic Reduction

Background

To put it simply, human composting aka Natural Organic Reduction (NOR) refers to an eco-friendly alternative to burial or cremation wherein a body is turned into nutrient-rich soil. Recompose, founded by Founding Order member Katrina Spade, has spearheaded the legalization process across the country. As of 2023 composting is currently legal in Washington, Colorado, Vermont, Oregon California, Nevada, and New York, with bills having been introduced in  a number of states.

Learn more about composting in our Green Death Tech  resource.

What We Are Doing

Our organization and founding members continue to work closely with assembly members in their efforts to legalize composting across the United States. The Order has been featured in numerous articles about this issue, and along with several founding members have provided testimonies to lawmakers in favor of this legislation in several states. The Order has also created videos educating the public of the benefits of NOR, used its social media platforms to mobilize support around this legislation, and detailed guide about how a composting bill becomes a law.

What You Can Do

Learn more about the legalization efforts and get notifications for any calls to action by signing up for our newsletter, the Death Positive Advocate. You can follow the Order of the Good Death on social media to get real time updates and action alerts. We have also created a guide for advocates who are looking for ways to become more involved in the legalization process.

Status

For a full list of states that have human composting bills in process and their status, visit our Support Composting Legislation page.


Aquamation (also known as Alkaline Hydrolysis or Water Cremation)

Background

Alkaline Hydrolysis is a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional cremation. Instead of being burned at a high temperature, bodies are dissolved in liquid which eliminates the greenhouse gases that traditional cremation produces. Another benefit of this process is that Alkaline Hydrolysis can help to restore traditional native Hawaiian burial practices. Learn more about Alkaline Hydrolysis.

What We Are Doing

From consulting on the creation of the bill to providing testimony, The Order was instrumental in getting Alkaline Hydrolysis legalized in California. In addition to the Order of the Good Death creating videos, and publishing articles educating the public about the process and benefits of Alkaline Hydrolysis, we have continued to advocate for the legalization of this process across the country in press coverage and by putting out calls to action on our social media platforms.

What You Can Do

You can keep track of legalization efforts around the country as well as find out if it is legal in your state. If you have social media, you can also follow the Order of the Good Death to get real time updates and alerts about upcoming legislation. If you live outside of the U.S. find out whether Alkaline Hydrolysis is being spoken about and/or advocated for in your country.

Status

Take action now by signing this petition urging lawmakers to legalize aquamation in Texas.


Genocide In Gaza

Background

Over 2 million people are trapped in Gaza as they are being bombed, cut off from food and water, care, and communication, resulting in mass death making it impossible for people to provide a “good death.” 

What We Are Doing

Death Positivity does not ask that we passively “accept” death but that we engage with and push back against the systems and actions that lead to unacceptable “bad” deaths resulting from violence. We join with others to demand a ceasefire.

What You Can Do

Find information about current local and global actions in your area.


Open Air Funeral Pyres

Background

As the name suggests, this is a practice where bodies are cremated outdoors under the open sky. This practice can provide a more intimate, healing experience for participants while also providing a pathway for some Indigenous tribes to restore traditional funeral and burial rituals. This practice is currently only legal in Crestone, Colorado but there are currently ongoing efforts to legalize this practice in Vermont, Maine, and Minnesota. Learn more about this practice.

What We Are Doing

The Order of the Good Death continues to share information and resources around this burial ritual with our audience as well as providing updated information on the legislative efforts in Vermont, Maine, and Minnesota.

What You Can Do

To find out ways to support the ongoing efforts in Maine, check out Good Ground Great Beyond, and in Minnesota, Northern Pyre.

Status

Bill H.216, an act to legalize open air cremation pyres was introduced in March 2023 by Rep. Matt Birong. It is currently being reviewed by the General and Housing Committee.


The People’s Response Act

Background

In 2023 Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01), Congresswoman Ayanna Presley (MA-07), Congresswoman Jan Shakowsky (IL-09), and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) reintroduced the People’s Response Act which reframes public safety as a public health issue. This act would create a new agency within the Department of Health and Human Services that would research and fund alternatives rooted in community health and safety, instead of incarceration and policing which often result in preventable bad deaths. Find out more information on this legislation.

What We Are Doing

The Order of the Good Death continues to vocally support this bill.

What You Can Do

There are two ways that you can support this legislation. The first is by signing the petition.

The second is by letting your Congressperson know that you support this act by contacting them. Resist.bot has made this easy; all you have to do is text ‘Resist’ to 50409 and Resist.bot will help you send an email or fax to your Congressperson. You can also email your representatives directly using the email template provided on the bill’s website.

Status

In July 2023 a press conference was held to reintroduce the People’s Response Act.

graphic for the people's response act featuring a blue background, white text, and a raised fist on the right side of the graphic

Fetal Tissue Burial Laws

Background

Across the country, states are passing laws that place requirements on how fetal tissue and remains are handled. While legislation varies from state to state, the majority require that fetal tissue be buried or cremated as is required of human bodies. This type of legislation not only further stigmatizes abortion and miscarriage, but also allows the funeral industry and politicians to further exploit people and fuel their fear of death. Learn more about fetal tissue burial laws.

What We Are Doing

The Order of the Good Death has put together a list of resources and contacts for people navigating these laws, and an article detailing how the Death Positive Movement can counteract anti-choice efforts. The Order has also provided grant funding to A Sacred Passing to develop a program to increase the access to education for people wanting to learn how to support and care someone through abortion and pregnancy loss. We continue to monitor legislation and push out calls to action when appropriate.

What You Can Do

As states continue to pass restrictive fetal tissue burial laws it is important to make your voice heard about how this places an undue burden on both providers and pregnant people. One easy way to reach out to your legislators is through Resist.bot. Simply text ‘Resist’ to 50409 and this service will turn your text messages into a letter to either fax or email directly to your chosen representatives.

Status

In May 2023 the the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up a lawsuit challenging Indiana’s fetal burial laws.


African American Burial Ground Network Study

Background

Senate Bill 2827 of the 116th Congress was introduced as a way to study and find ways to identify, interpret, preserve, and record unmarked, previously abandoned, or otherwise underserved African American peoples’ burial grounds. To read the full text of this bill, click here. The bill was passed by the Senate on December 20, 2020 but was never passed by the House.

What We Are Doing

The Order of the Good Death was one of the official signers of this bill when it was introduced to the Senate by Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Tim Scott (R-SC). In addition to this, The Order has continued to create videos and publish articles  centering on the history and preservation efforts of Black burial spaces.

What You Can Do

At the end of 2022 Senate Bill 2827 (116th) secured inclusion in the omnibus bill.

Status

President Biden is expected to sign the bill into law in 2023.


End of Life Option Act

Background

The California End of Life Option Act (ABX2-15) allows terminally ill Californians to request medication to peacefully end their lives and free them from suffering. Read the full act.

What We Are Doing

In 2015, in addition to founder Caitlin Doughty serving on the Southern California Advisory Council for bill sponsor Compassion & Choices, the Order of the Good Death successfully launched a social media and information campaign to help get this bill passed.

What You Can Do

To stay up to date on current legislative efforts around end of life rights check out Compassion & Choices.

Status

Medical Aid in Dying laws have passed in the following states as of 2023: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, Colorado, California, Washington D.C., Hawaii, New Jersey, Maine, New Mexico.