PORTLAND, OR – Compassion & Choices (C&C), the nation’s oldest and largest
nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life,
today released the story of Alan Hansen of Lincoln, Nebraska, and the peaceful death
he achieved with life-ending medication.
“Alan deserved to die at the time and place of his choice, after a long battle with a
terminal illness,” said C&C President Barbara Coombs Lee in releasing the story of
Alan’s death. “Alan and his family did nothing illegal, because he obtained and took the
life-ending medication himself. But they had to proceed in secrecy, when Alan should
have been able to ask his doctor for aid in dying and receive support from his healthcare
team for the peaceful death he chose. Solid research and experience shows access to aid
in dying gives terminal patients enormous comfort and peace of mind, and it harms no
Ten years after his neurologist confirmed his Parkinson’s disease, Alan, 81, faced an
approaching death. Alan suffered through loss of muscle control, increasing stiffness,
tremor and finally almost complete immobility. He could no longer change positions in
bed, dress himself or move at all without great pain and difficulty.
Alan and Lois, his wife of 59 years, had thought about what gave life meaning and how
to face mortality since their early 20s. It began with drafting wills to provide for their
children and much later establishing living wills and powers of attorney for healthcare.
Over time they enlisted in the movement for end-of-life choice and joined the
organization that later became Compassion & Choices.
Alan met the end of his life in a manner consistent with his beliefs and values, working
with Compassion & Choices’ End-of-Life Consultation Program and with his family’s
Since 1993, Compassion & Choices’ End-of-Life Consultation program has helped
thousands of clients find a way to humane and peaceful dying. C&C applies strict
guidelines and safeguards similar to those that ensure safety under Oregon’s Death with
Dignity Act for 13 years. Our client relationships are confidential, and our average
length of contact with a client is 180 days—we know our clients well.
To view the full article in C&C’s summer magazine, click here:
For more information please visit www.compassionandchoices.org.