End-of-Life Choice, Death with Dignity, Palliative Care and Counseling

First Volunteer Advocate for Washington Death-with-Dignity Law Praised for Brave Leadership Following Her Deathby Chris


Terminally Ill Woman Used Law She Supported to End Her Own End-of-Life Suffering

(Seattle – Aug.  14, 2014) Compassion & Choices praised Barbara Coffin for her brave leadership in publicly supporting Washington’s Death with Dignity Act, a law she utilized Tuesday to end her dying process from ovarian cancer. Last night, KOMO-TV in Seattle reported that “Coffin said goodbye to her family and this world for the last time [and] she took her medication” to end her suffering.

“Barbara Coffin’s bravery in death matched her courage in life. She understood the importance of promoting end-of-life choice until her last days,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, who was a senior advisor on the citizen referendum campaign to pass the death-with-dignity law. “We owe her a great debt of gratitude for her strong leadership on this issue. She spoke on behalf of countless other Americans who also want the option to die peacefully, with dignity.”

“The Dignity Act is already providing me with great peace of mind,” said Barbara Coffin (then Barbara McKay) at a news conference on March 5, 2009, the day the Washington law took effect. “I’ve been through two surgeries and three chemotherapy treatments. I’m determined to live as long as possible, and as long as the quality of my life is worth living.”

“Barbara Coffin’s willingness to step forward despite knowing that opponents of the law would criticize her inspired us all,” said Robb Miller, executive director of Compassion & Choices of Washington. “But she believed that everyone should have more end-of-life choices than her parents did. As a result, they suffered unnecessarily when they died.”

“My father lingered day after day as he slowly died…he lost a great deal of the dignity that he so cherished in life,” concluded Barbara at the 2009 news conference. “My mother’s death was equally difficult for her. And now, it is my turn to face the end of life. Maybe not this month or next, or even this year. But when it comes I am going to benefit from the Washington law.”

In addition to Washington, death with dignity is expressly legal in Oregon, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico. Compassion & Choices has campaigns to bring aid in dying to California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey. Even in states without aid in dying laws, there are options to ensure that no one suffers needlessly at life’s end. To learn more about these options, and what is available to you where you live, you can call Compassion & Choices End-Of-Life Consultation program toll free at 1.800.247.7421.