The Order is focused on advocating for legislation that protects and expands people’s ability to have a good death.

The Order, its founding members, and advocates in the Death Positive Movement have played a crucial role in the creation and writing of bills, providing testimony to the Senate and Congress, providing public education, expanding awareness, and leveraging public support for legislation on a variety of issues.

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


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 which requires 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. 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.

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. The Order is launching a campaign to inform people that the FTC is soliciting the public’s comments about updating the Funeral Rule and how it could impact them.

What You Can Do

The FTC is inviting the public to submit their comments to help them decide if the Funeral Rule should be updated. We encourage you to leave a comment regarding updating the Funeral Rule to require funeral homes to provide pricing information on websites, or if requested via email or through a their website’s contact form, as well as other issues including clarifying your right to decline embalming, and address new forms of disposition like human composting and aquamation. You can review a complete list of changes being considered here.

There is a 60 day comment period, so comments should be submitted no later than January 17, 2023.

Step 1: Go to the Regulations.gov website. Copy and paste “Funeral Rule ANPR, 16 CFR Part 453, Project No. P034410” into the “search,” and then click on the green “search” button

Step 2: This will take you to a page with “Funeral Industry Practices Rule.” Beneath this is a “Comment” button, click on this.

Step 3: You can now leave your comments on the page provided. We strongly suggest clicking on the FTC’s “Commenter’s Checklist” and read through to see how to make your comment effective. You can also read through this summary of effective arguments to help form your own.

If you prefer you may also submit your comments by mail:

Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary

600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite CC-5610 (Annex B)

Washington, DC 20580.


Natural Organic Reduction (also known as Human Composting)

Background

To put it simply, Natural Organic Reduction (NOR) refers to an 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 the process is currently legal in Washington, Colorado, Vermont, Oregon California, and New York. Learn more about composting in our Green Death Tech  resource.

Check for updates on efforts to legalize NOR in the following states:

Massachussets 

What We Are Doing

Our organization and founding members continue to work closely with assembly members in their efforts to legalize Natural Organic Reduction 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 how a composting bill becomes a law on our podcast.

What You Can Do

Learn more about the legalization efforts and get notifications for any calls to action by signing up for Recompose’s newsletter. If you have social media, you can follow the Order of the Good Death to get real time updates and action alerts, or email us for an information packet at info (at) orderofthegooddeath (dot) com.


Alkaline Hydrolysis (also known as Aquamation 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.


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 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 both 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.


The People’s Response Act

Background

On June 28, 2021 Congresswoman Cori Bush (MO-01), Congresswoman Ayanna Presley (MA-07), Congresswoman Jan Shakowsky (IL-09), and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) introduced 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.


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. 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.


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