“Death Doulas” Fight for Right to Serve Families
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- A case which could put so-called "death doulas" out of business gets a hearing this week before a federal judge in Sacramento.
Death doulas support families emotionally through the process of losing a loved one, educate people on their options and sometimes wash and dress the body and assist with home funerals or green burials. The state wants to require them to get a funeral director's license.
Jess Pezley, staff attorney for the nonprofit Compassion and Choices, which has filed an amicus brief to join the case, said the license would require doulas to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy a funeral home equipped to embalm and store bodies.
"They don't embalm. They aren't transporting the body. They aren't offering crematorium services," Pezley outlined. "And they're not doing anything that would put themselves or others at risk of blood-borne viruses, things like that."
Two years ago, the California Cemetery and Funeral Bureau ordered the doulas at Full Circle of Living and Dying in Nevada County to become licensed funeral directors or cease operations. The doulas sued, and a preliminary injunction allowed them to stay in business. The bureau declined to comment.
Pezley noted the state's order was spurred by an anonymous complaint.
"It would make sense that it was somebody in the conventional funeral industry who has this vested financial interest in dissuading people from home burials or green burials," Pezley contended.
Meagan Williams, a death doula and senior media associate with Compassion and Choices, said if the doulas are required to become funeral directors, it would effectively shut down the field and deny families an important option.
"Doulas can bring comfort and peace," Williams stated. "Knowing that they're not alone, knowing that there's somebody who is educated who understands the process, understands what's coming up ahead of them, and can help them plan."
This week both sides are asking for a summary judgment, and a decision is expected early next year.
get more stories like this via email
North Dakota's farming landscape is seeing policy shifts dealing with corporate ownership of agricultural interests. Now, there's fresh debate at the …
Advocates for unpaid family caregivers in Maine say they'll need continued support beyond the recently passed paid family and medical leave program…
The Students for Justice in Palestine chapters at the University of Florida and the University of South Florida are filing lawsuits against the deacti…
A new report from WGU Labs, a nonprofit affiliate of Western Governors University based in Millcreek, Utah, is shedding light on the importance of …
Many older residents of Washington state are facing strains on their budgets -- and the government programs that could assist them are underused…
Bloomington and Indianapolis are getting some international recognition for the work they're doing to help the environment. The two have been named …
Health and Wellness
New Mexico activists are tapping today's World AIDS Day, Dec. 1, to announce they'll ask the State Legislature to provide more money for treatment …
Bipartisan legislation that proposes the installation of solar panels in schools across Pennsylvania awaits a vote in the state Senate. The Solar …