Category Archive: Press Release

  1. Corte de Apelaciones de California ordena al Tribunal de Primera Instancia Anular la Decisión de Suspender Temporalmente la Ley Opción de Fin de Vida

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    Kevin Díaz, chief legal advocacy officer for Compassion & Choices, and outside counsel John Kappos speaking to journalists after court hearing in 2017.

    El martes a última hora, un tribunal de apelaciones de California ordenó a un tribunal superior anular su sentencia presentada en mayo, la cual suspendió la ley estatal de ayuda médica para morir antes que el tribunal de apelaciones revocó en Junio, restableciendo la ley.  El Circuito de Apelaciones del 4to Distrito, dictaminó que los demandantes médicos no establecieron una posición legal cuando presentaron su demanda en el 2016 para anular la Ley de Opción de Fin de Vida, porque la legislación no los afecta a ellos ni a sus pacientes, ya que ambos son libres de aceptar o rechazar de participar en la ley.

    En una decisión mayoritaria de 2-1, la corte de apelaciones en el caso Ahn v. Hestrin declaró:

    “… concluimos que las partidos de Ahn carecen de posición para cualquiera de las teorías que han afirmado en esta apelación. No tenemos forma de saber si, en la devolución (enviando el caso de vuelta al tribunal superior), podrán enmendar su queja para alegar la legitimación, si el tribunal  les otorgará permiso para hacerlo o si serán capaz de comprobar sus acusaciones enmendadas “(vea el primer párrafo completo en la página 27).

    El fallo del tribunal de apelaciones se realizó el 8 de octubre después de una audiencia, donde se presentaron los argumentos orales por parte de los demandantes, de la oficina del procurador general estatal y de los abogados que trabajan con Compassion & Choices quienes representan a dos adultos con enfermedades terminales y un médico.

    “La buena noticia es que la ley permanece intacta hasta ahora y en un futuro previsible, por lo cual, los médicos pueden recetar a los californianos con enfermedades terminales quienes necesitan la opción de ayuda médica para morir”, dijo Kevin Díaz, director nacional de defensa legal de Compassion & Choices, cuya organización hermana, la Red de Acción de Compassion & Choices, lideró la campaña para aprobar la Ley de Opción de Fin de Vida. “Pero sabemos por experiencia en estos últimos 2 años y medio de este caso que nuestros oponentes seguirán todas las tácticas legales posibles para anular la ley. Lucharemos contra ellos en todo momento para protegerla”.

    “Este fallo del tribunal de apelaciones es un importante precedente legal que refuerza nuestras posibilidades de defender con éxito la ley”, dijo John Kappos, socio del bufete de abogados O’Melveny representante de Compassion & Choices, y quien presentó un argumento oral ante el tribunal de apelaciones. “Pero la dura realidad es que este caso durará varios años más porque los demandantes están empeñados en privar a los californianos de su derecho constitucional a las opciones de cuidados de fin de vida que aseguran a los californianos con enfermedades terminales tener acceso a una muerte pacífica y sin sufrimiento”.

    “Los demandantes deben demostrar una posición legal o no podrán continuar con el caso”, dijo Jon B. Eisenberg, abogado de Healdsburg (Condado de Sonoma), experto en leyes de apelación que trabaja con el equipo legal de Compassion & Choices. “Pero el tribunal de apelaciones le proporcionó a los demandantes una guía del proceso para hacerlo, lo que probablemente intentarán hacer una vez que el caso se envíe de vuelta al tribunal superior. Y también es posible que la Corte Suprema de California tome el caso en su lugar y se pronuncie directamente sobre la constitucionalidad de la Ley de Opción de Fin de Vida “.

    El 18 de julio, la corte de apelaciones otorgó a dos adultos con enfermedades terminales y un médico representado por Compassion & Choices una moción de emergencia para una suspensión automática y anular de inmediato la sentencia de un tribunal inferior el 30 de mayo de 2018, invalidando la Ley de Opción de Final de Vida. El fallo de la corte de apelaciones que restablece la ley fue retroactivo al 1 de junio de 2018, cuando Compassion & Choices presentó una notificación de apelación.

    La corte de apelaciones también otorgó el 16 de junio de 2018 mociones para una “estancia discrecional” de la decisión del tribunal inferior presentada por Compassion & Choices ‘y el Procurador General Xavier Becerra. Esos fallos aseguraron al público que la ley volvió a estar vigente antes del fallo del 18 de julio.

    En julio, el Departamento de Salud Pública de California publicó un informe el cual mostraba que durante un período de casi siete meses, desde el 9 de junio de 2016 hasta el 31 de diciembre de 2016, 191 californianos con enfermedades terminales recibieron recetas de ayuda para morir por parte de 173 médicos; 111 de esos individuos (58%) decidieron auto-ingerir el medicamento.

    Las encuestas muestran que el 76 por ciento de los californianos en todo el espectro político y demográfico apoyan la ayuda médica para morir. Este apoyo mayoritario incluye el 82 por ciento de los demócratas, el 79 por ciento de los independientes, el 67 por ciento de los republicanos, el 75 por ciento de los blancos, los latinos y los asiáticos y el 52 por ciento de los afroamericanos.

    California es uno de los siete estados, incluyendo Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington y Hawai’i, así como el Distrito de Columbia, que ha autorizado la asistencia médica para morir. En conjunto, estas ocho jurisdicciones representan a casi uno de cada cinco estadounidenses (19%) y tienen 40 años de experiencia combinada empleando esta opción de cuidado al final de la vida.

  2. Calif. Appeals Court Directs Lower Court to Nullify Ruling that Temporarily Suspended End of Life Option Act in May

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    A California appeals court late Tuesday directed a superior trial court to nullify its judgment in late May that suspended the state’s medical aid-in-dying law before the appeals court granted a stay in June reinstating the law. The Court of Appeal, 4th Appellate District (“appeals court”), ruled the physician plaintiffs didn’t establish legal standing when they filed their lawsuit in 2016 to overturn the End of Life Option Act because the law doesn’t affect them or their patients since they both are free to opt out of participating in the law.  

    In a majority 2-1 ruling, the appeals court in Ahn v. Hestrin, stated:

    “…we conclude that the Ahn parties lack standing for any of the theories they have asserted in this appeal. We have no way of knowing whether, on remand [sending the case back to superior court], they will be able to amend their complaint so as to allege standing, whether the trial court will grant them leave to do so, or whether they will be able to prove up their amended allegations.” (see first full paragraph on page 27).

    The appeals court ruling followed a hearing on Oct. 8, featuring oral arguments by the plaintiffs, the state attorney general’s office, and attorneys working with Compassion & Choices representing two terminally ill adults and a physician.

    “The good news is that the law remains intact for the foreseeable future, so doctors can write prescriptions for terminally ill Californians who need the option of medical aid in dying,” said Kevin Díaz, chief legal advocacy officer for Compassion & Choices, whose sister organization, Compassion & Choices Action Network, led the campaign to pass the End of Life Option Act. “But we know from experience over the last 2-½ years in this case that our opponents will pursue every possible legal tactic to overturn the law. We will fight them at every turn to protect it.” 

    Kevin Díaz, chief legal advocacy officer for Compassion & Choices, and outside counsel John Kappos speaking to journalists after court hearing in 2017.

    “This appeals court ruling is an important legal precedent that strengthens our chances of successfully defending the law,” said John Kappos, a partner in the O’Melveny law firm working with Compassion & Choices, and who presented oral argument to the appeals court. “But the harsh reality is this case is likely to last several more years because the plaintiffs are hell-bent on depriving Californians of their constitutional right to end-of-life care options that ensure terminally ill Californians have access to a peaceful death, free of unbearable suffering.”

    “The plaintiffs must show legal standing or they will not be able to continue the case,” said Jon B. Eisenberg, of Healdsburg (Sonoma County), an expert in appellate law working with the Compassion & Choices legal team.  “But the appeals court provided the plaintiffs with a roadmap for doing so, which they will likely attempt to do once the case is sent back to the superior court.  And it is also possible that the California Supreme Court will take the case instead and rule directly on the constitutionality of the End of Life Option Act.”

    On July 18, the appeals court granted an emergency motion by the two terminally ill adults and a physician represented by Compassion & Choices for an automatic stay to immediately suspend a lower court’s judgment on May 30, 2018, invalidating the End of Life Option Act. The appeals court ruling reinstating the law was retroactive to June 1, 2018, when Compassion & Choices filed a notice of appeal.  

    The appeals court also granted on June 16, 2018, motions for a “discretionary stay” of the lower court ruling filed by Compassion & Choices’ and Attorney General Xavier Becerra. Those rulings reassured the public that the law was back in effect before the ruling of July 18.

    In July, the California Department of Public Health released a report showing 191 terminally ill Californians received prescriptions from 173 doctors for aid-in-dying medication during the nearly seven month period from June 9, 2016, until Dec. 31, 2016; 111 of those individuals (58%) decided to self-ingest the medication.

    Polling shows 76 percent of Californians across the political and demographic spectrum support medical aid in dying. This majority support includes 82 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of independents, 67 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of whites, Latinos and Asian Americans, and 52 percent of African Americans.

    California is one of seven states — including Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Hawai‘i — as well as the District of Columbia, that have authorized medical aid in dying. Collectively, these eight jurisdictions represent nearly one out of five Americans (19%) and have 40 years of combined experience safely using this end-of-life care option.

  3. Compassion & Choices Praises African American, Latino Leadership Councils for Advancing End-of-Life Healthcare Education

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    The African American Leadership Council

    Compassion & Choices today praised its African American and Latino Leadership Councils on their one-year anniversary for securing endorsements of medical aid-in-dying legislation and for advancing end-of-life healthcare education across the country. These options include advance care planning, hospice, palliative care, and medical aid in dying.

    Compassion & Choices created the Councils to improve end-of life care outreach to communities of color. Members were recruited to advance the organization’s strategic goal to empower all Americans nationwide about their healthcare options at life’s end.

    “These multicultural community leaders, executives and physicians have served as our partners in educating communities of color about end of life care and choice,said Compassion & Choices Chief Executive Officer Kim Callinan. “Their authoritative voices have helped to ensure that communities of color have access to the full range of end-of-life care options in the United States.”

    Since the joint launch in November 2017, the Council members have been instrumental in helping Compassion & Choices defeat attempts to repeal the Death with Dignity Act in the District of Columbia, and legislative initiatives to weaken medical aid-in-dying laws in California and Colorado.

    Medical aid-in-dying laws allow terminally ill adults to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can voluntarily decide to self-ingest to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable. Reports show these laws spur conversations between terminally ill adults, their doctors and their loved ones about all end-of-life care options, including hospice and palliative care, and better utilization of these options.

    Council members have engaged in national outreach through community engagement with National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Urban League (NUL), National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) and National Black Nurses Association (NBNA). Council members also secured endorsements for medical aid in dying from the National Hispanic Council on Aging, Latino Commission on AIDS, Hispanic Health Network and Latinos for Healthcare Equity in New York, a state with 18 percent of Hispanics.

    Both national and state polls show strong support for medical aid in dying across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum, including 69 percent of Latinos nationwide and 53 percent of African Americans.

    The African American Leadership Council includes:

    • Lucille Ridgill, MD, Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Care, California
    • Rev. Madison Shockley, United Church of Christ, California
    • Jason Gaulden, communications director, America Succeeds, Colorado
    • Shawn Perry, host, The Senior Zone radio show, Maryland
    • Delores Lewis, senior advisor to the City Council, New Jersey
    • Channte’ Keith, director of programs, National African-American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, North Carolina
    • Omega Silva, MD, Endocrinology and Internal Medicine, Washington, D.C.
    • Sultan Shakir, executive director, Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), Washington, D.C.
    • Shirley Tabb, licensed social worker, Washington, D.C.
    • Christy Davis Jackson, attorney, New Jersey
    • Al Thomas, co-founder South Jersey Journal, New Jersey
    • Khadine Bennett, Director of Advocacy and Intergovernmental Affairs, ACLU of Illinois, Illinois
    • Rev. Dr. Paul Smith, Civil Rights Veteran, Minister, Educator, Author, Diversity Role Model, Maryland
    • Rev. Charles McNeill, Pastor Unity Baptist Church; President, National Capital Baptist Convention, Washington, D.C.

    The Latino Leadership Council includes:

    • Dan Diaz, husband of late medical aid-in-dying advocate Brittany  Maynard, California
    • Dr. Daniel Turner-Lloveras, physician, California
    • Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader, California
    • Dr. Jaime R. Torres, President, Latinos for Healthcare Equity, New York
    • Father Luis Barrios, Episcopal priest, Grace Church, New York
    • Guillermo Chacon, president, Latino Commission on AIDS; founder, Hispanic Health Network, New York
    • Irisaida “Isa” Mendez, communications professional, Florida
    • Jorge Lambrinos, founding director, Edward R. Roybal Institute on Aging, University of Southern California (USC), California
    • Mauricio Ochmann, actor, California
    • María D. Otero, Founder/Director, Nuestra Salud, New Mexico
    • María Lemus, Executive Director, Visión y Compromiso, California
    • Nilsa Centeno, mother of late medical aid-in-dying advocate Miguel Carrasquillo, Puerto Rico
    • Pastor Sergio Camacho, Latino Ministry, United Methodist Church, California
    • Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck, State Representative, Utah
    • Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera, Ph. D., United Methodist Church, California
    • Dr. Yanira Cruz, CEO & President, National Hispanic Council on Aging, Washington, D.C.

    The leadership councils are led by National Constituency Director Brandi Alexander and National Latino Communications and Constituency Director Patricia A. González-Portillo.   

    “Our African American Leadership Council has engaged in valuable outreach to the community and stressed the importance of having  informed healthcare conversations,” said Alexander.”There is a real need for advancing end-of-life care options for African Americans throughout the United States.”

    “More Latinos throughout the country are coming forward to support medical aid in dying, thanks to our Latino council members,” said González-Portillo. “This powerful group of leaders is helping to guide new work to reach and engage more Hispanics in the United States, its territories and various islands. Their mission is to ensure our terminally ill Latino brothers and sisters can have the end-of-life care options they desire, including the option to die peacefully without unbearable suffering.”

    For a complete list of members and additional information, please visit,  https://compassionandchoices.org/take-action/community-outreach/communities-color-choices/  

  4. Compassion & Choices Elogia Consejos de Líderes Latinos, Afroamericanos Por Avanzar Educación de Cuidados de Salud de Fin de Vida

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    The Latino Leadership Council

    Compassion & Choices elogió hoy a sus Consejos de Liderazgo Latino y Afroamericano en su primer aniversario por haber obtenido el respaldo de leyes de ayuda médica y por promover la educación de cuidados de salud al final de la vida en todo el país. Estas opciones incluyen la planificación de cuidados, los cuidados paliativos y la ayuda médica para morir.

    Compassion & Choices creó los Consejos para mejorar la difusión del cuidado de fin de vida en comunidades de color. Los integrantes fueron reclutados para promover el objetivo estratégico de la organización el cual es, capacitar a todos los estadounidenses sobre sus opciones de cuidados médicos al final de la vida.

    “Estos líderes comunitarios multiculturales, ejecutivos y médicos han servido como nuestros socios para educar a las comunidades de color sobre el cuidado y la elección al final de la vida”, dijo la Directora Ejecutiva de Compassion & Choices, Kim Callinan. “Sus voces expertas han ayudado a garantizar que las comunidades de color tengan acceso a una gama completa de opciones de cuidados de fin de vida en los Estados Unidos”.

    Desde el lanzamiento en noviembre del 2017, los miembros del Consejo han sido fundamentales para ayudar a Compassion & Choices a derrotar los intentos de derogar el acta de Muerte con Dignidad en el Distrito de Columbia, y las iniciativas legislativas para debilitar las leyes de ayuda médica para morir en California y Colorado.

    Las leyes de ayuda médica para morir permiten que los adultos con enfermedades terminales soliciten una receta médica que puedan ingerir voluntariamente y así poder morir pacíficamente mientras duermen cuando el sufrimiento se vuelve insoportable. Los informes muestran que estas leyes estimulan las conversaciones entre los adultos con enfermedades terminales, sus médicos y sus seres queridos sobre todas las opciones de atención al final de la vida, incluyendo los cuidados paliativos y un mejor uso de estas opciones.

    Los miembros del Consejo se han involucrado en actividades de divulgación nacional a través de la participación comunitaria con el National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), National Urban League (NUL), National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) y el National Black Nurses Association (NBNA). Los miembros del Consejo también obtuvieron el apoyo del Consejo Nacional Hispano Para el Adulto Mayor, la Comisión Latina sobre el SIDA,  Red Hispana de Salud y Latinos for Healthcare Equity en Nueva York, un estado con un 18 por ciento de hispanos.

    Tanto las encuestas nacionales como las estatales muestran un fuerte apoyo a la ayuda médica para morir en todo el espectro étnico, político y religioso, incluyendo el 69 por ciento de los latinos en todo el país y el 53 por ciento de los afroamericanos.

    El Consejo de Liderazgo Latino incluye:

    • Dan Díaz, esposo de Brittany Maynard, finada defensora de ayuda médica para morir, California
    • Dr. Daniel Turner-Lloveras, médico, California
    • Dolores Huerta, líder de derechos civiles, California
    • Dr. Jaime R. Torres, Presidente, Latinos for Healthcare Equity, Nueva York
    • Padre Luis Barrios, sacerdote episcopal, Grace Church, Nueva York
    • Guillermo Chacón, presidente de la Comisión Latina sobre el SIDA; fundador, Red Hispana de Salud, Nueva York
    • Irisaida “Isa” Mendez, profesional de comunicaciones, Florida
    • Jorge Lambrinos, director fundador del Instituto de Envejecimiento Edward R. Roybal, Universidad del Sur de California (USC), California
    • Mauricio Ochmann, actor, California
    • María D. Otero, Fundadora / Directora, Nuestra Salud, Nuevo México
    • María Lemus, directora ejecutiva, Visión y Compromiso, California
    • Nilsa Centeno, madre del finado defensor de ayuda médica para morir Miguel Carrasquillo, Puerto Rico
    • Pastor Sergio Camacho, ministerio Latino, Iglesia Metodista Unida, California
    • Representante Rebecca Chavez-Houck, legisladora estatal, Utah
    • Reverendo Dr. Ignacio Castuera, Ph. D., Iglesia Metodista Unida, California
    • Dra. Yanira Cruz, directora ejecutiva y presidenta del Consejo Nacional Hispano Para el Adulto Mayor, Washington, D.C.

    El Consejo de Liderazgo Afroamericano incluye:

    • Lucille Ridgill, MD, médico, medicina interna y cuidados paliativos, California
    • Reverendo Madison Shockley, Iglesia de Cristo Unida, California
    • Jason Gaulden, director de comunicaciones, America Succeeds, Colorado
    • Shawn Perry, presentador, programa de radio The Senior Zone, Maryland     
    • Delores Lewis, asesora principal del Consejo Municipal, Nueva Jersey
    • Channte ’Keith, directora de programas, National African-American Tobacco Prevention Network (NAATPN) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (NAATPN), Carolina del Norte
    • Omega Silva, MD, médico, endocrinología y medicina interna, Washington, D.C.
    • Sultan Shakir, director ejecutivo, Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders (SMYAL), Washington, D.C.
    • Shirley Tabb, trabajadora social, Washington, D.C.
    • Christy Davis Jackson, abogada, New Jersey
    • Al Thomas, co fundador, South Jersey Journal,New Jersey
    • Khadine Bennett, directora de abogacía y Asuntos Intergubernamentales, ACLU, Illinois
    • Rev. Dr. Paul Smith, veterano de derechos civiles, ministro, educador, autor, Diversity Role Model, Maryland
    • Reverendo Charles McNeill, pastor, Unity Baptist Church; presidente, National Capital Baptist Convention, Washington, D.C.

    Los consejos de liderazgo están dirigidos por la Directora Nacional de Comunicaciones Latinas, Patricia A. González-Portillo y por la Directora del Circunscripción Nacional, Brandi Alexander.

    “Más latinos en todo el país están dando la cara para apoyar la ayuda médica para morir, gracias a los miembros de nuestro consejo latino,” dijo González-Portillo. “Este poderoso grupo de líderes está ayudando a guiar nuevos esfuerzos para alcanzar e involucrar a más hispanos en los Estados Unidos, sus territorios y en varias islas. Su misión es garantizar que nuestros hermanos latinos con enfermedades terminales puedan tener las opciones de cuidados de fin de vida que deseen, incluyendo la opción de morir en paz sin un sufrimiento insoportable”.

    “Nuestro Consejo de Liderazgo Afroamericano se ha involucrado en un valioso acercamiento a la comunidad y ha destacado la importancia de tener conversaciones e información sobre el cuidado de la salud”, dijo Alexander. “Existe una gran necesidad de promover las opciones de atención al final de la vida para los afroamericanos en los Estados Unidos”.

    Para obtener una lista completa de los miembros e información adicional, visite https://compassionandchoices.org/take-action/community-outreach/communities-color-choices/

  5. End-of-Life Care Group Praises Report by NJ Gov. Advisory Council on End-of-Life Care

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    Compassion & Choices today praised a new report by the New Jersey Governor’s Advisory Council on End-of-Life Care, noting that the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act (A1504/S1072) would help achieve the council’s recommendations to improve end-of-life care for state residents.

    A growing consensus is emerging across the nation about the

    Compassion & Choices NJ Campaign Director Corinne Carey with C&C volunteer advocate at lobby-rally day at state capitol in Trenton on Oct. 29, 2018.

    importance of expert end-of-life care, especially as it relates to honoring individual wishes and preferences in the context of an advanced or terminal illness,” notes the council’s report (see “Executive Summary” on page 1). “New Jersey can benefit from laws and policies that contain provisions aimed at improving advance care planning, palliative care, hospice care and end-of-life care,” the report concludes (see “Recommendation 2; Background” on page 18).

    “We know New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act will both honor individuals’ wishes for end-of-life care and improve it because that is what has happened in every state that has passed a similar law,” said Corinne Carey, New Jersey campaign director for Compassion & Choices. “In fact, this legislation requires doctors to advise any terminally ill adult who requests medical aid in dying about all end-of-life care options, including hospice and palliative care. The council’s report is the capstone for legislative leaders to bring this bill to the floor on the last scheduled voting day of the year, Dec. 17, because we are confident they have the votes to pass it.”

    Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, the model for New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, has helped spur the state to lead the nation in hospice enrollment, according to the report published in the New England Journal of Medicine. More than 90 percent of terminally ill adults who have utilized the Oregon law since it took effect 20 years ago were enrolled in hospice, according to Oregon Health Authority data.

    The council’s report noted one barrier to improving access to and utilization of palliative care is: “…many practitioners struggle with advance care planning and end-of-life care discussions, and shy away from delivering bad news or having honest conversations with patients near the end-of-life” (see “Barrier 2: Lack of Communication and Conversations” on page 12).

    Medical aid-in-dying laws similar to the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act help solve this problem by spurring discussions between doctors and patients about all of end-of-life care options, including hospice and palliative care, as the Los Angeles Times noted last year.

    In addition California and Oregon, medical aid in dying is authorized in Colorado, the District of Columbia, Montana, Vermont, Washington, and starting on Jan. 1, in Hawai’i. Collectively, these eight jurisdictions represent nearly 1 out of 5 Americans (19%) and have 40 years of combined experience safely using this end-of-life care option.

    A 2-1 majority (63% vs. 29%) of New Jersey voters, including most Protestants (73%), Catholics (64%) and other non-Protestant residents (59%), support medical aid in dying, according to the most recent state poll on the issue by Rutgers-Eagleton. Major newspapers statewide have endorsed the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.

  6. Sedona City Council Unanimously Passes Resolution in Support of Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation

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    Compassion & Choices commended the Sedona City Council for its unanimous vote last night in favor of a bipartisan resolution in support of medical aid-in-dying legislation in Arizona (7-0), including Mayor Sandy Moriarty as a voting member. This makes Sedona the 4th municipality in Arizona to pass a local resolution, joining Tucson, Oro Valley and Bisbee.

    Since March of 2018, the Sedona Arizona Compassion & Choices Action Team has been working to pass a local resolution supporting medical aid in dying. Medical aid in dying is a medical practice which gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to peacefully end unbearable suffering. The Sedona resolution was co-sponsored by City Councilors Jon Thompson and Jessica Williamson and will be transmitted to the Arizona State Legislature.

    Community advocates attended the council meeting and shared their compelling personal stories about the positive impact the future legislation could have on terminally-ill Arizonans.

    “We are thrilled that Sedona’s City Councilors and Mayor Moriarty recognize the urgency of passing medical aid-in-dying legislation for the terminally ill residents of Arizona,” said Elizabeth Armijo, Regional Campaign & Outreach Manager at Compassion & Choices. “The vote was unanimous, demonstrating the need for swift action to advance this vital end-of-life option.”  

    Medical aid in dying is authorized as an end-of-life care option in eight U.S. jurisdictions. Oregon, where medical aid in dying has been authorized for two decades (since 1997), has been joined since then by Washington (2008), Montana (2009), Vermont (2013, California (2015), Colorado (2016), Washington, D.C. (2017) and Hawaiʻi (2018).

  7. Group Releases 2nd Video for Digital Ad Campaign to Pass NJ Aid-in-Dying Bill by Year’s End

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    Compassion & Choices today released its second video in a digital video ad campaign featuring passionate advocates of New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act (A1504/S1072) urging the state Assembly and Senate to pass the bill before the end of year. Dec. 17 is the last scheduled voting day for the legislature.

    The digital video ads started running on multiple digital platforms on Oct. 9 and have generated more than 675,000 impressions, more than 580,000 video ad impressions, nearly 60,000 30-second video views and nearly 13,000 video post engagements.

    Melissa Wilcox

    The ads will continue until lawmakers enact the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act into law. The new video features two sisters who are nurses disabled by life-shortening diseases. They urge New Jerseyans to write their lawmakers in support of the legislation and to bring it to the floor for a vote at: CompassionAndChoices.org/New-Jersey. Their video is posted at: bit.ly/WilcoxSistersVideo.

    “I’ve had 18 surgeries. I plan to fight my illness for as long as I can. I enjoy life,” says 61-year-old Clark resident Laurie Wilcox, LPN, who has suffered from rheumatoid arthritis for 30 years that has invaded her lung tissue and requires an oxygen tank most of the day to breathe. “At the end stage of my disease, I do not want to suffer through air hunger in the very last days of my life. Please urge New Jersey lawmakers to bring this legislation to the floor for a vote now.”

    “I have two small, small grandchildren that I love to death,” says Hamilton Township resident Melissa Wilcox, RN, who suffers from small cell lung cancer, the most deadly of all lung cancers. “I don’t want to die, but I’m going to. I’d like to have the opportunity to do it in my own way, at home, with my family and friends around me. I need the lawmakers to act right now because I may not have tomorrow.”

    The first video in the digital ad campaign featuring Paramus nurse Debra Dunn’s description of her husband Herb’s horrific death because he did not have access to medical aid in dying has generated over 100,00 video views on Facebook with over 970 post engagements, over 16,000 video views on Twitter with over 730 tweet engagements and over 27,000 video views on YouTube with 100 clicks.

    A 2-1 majority (63% vs. 29%) of New Jersey voters, including most Protestants (73%), Catholics (64%) and other non-Protestant residents (59%), support medical aid in dying, according to the most recent state poll on the issue by Rutgers-Eagleton. Major newspapers statewide have endorsed the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.

    “We have the votes now to pass this popular, six-year-old bill in the Assembly and Senate,” said Corinne Carey, New Jersey campaign director for Compassion & Choices. “Lawmakers should honor the wishes of the vast majority of their constituents and pass this bill before any more terminally ill New Jerseyans die in needless agony because they did not have this option.”

    Medical aid in dying is authorized in Washington, D.C. and 7 states: California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and starting on Jan. 1, in Hawai’i. Collectively, these jurisdictions represent nearly 1 out of 5 Americans (19%) and have 40 years of combined experience safely using this end-of-life care option.

  8. California hospice doctor joins Compassion & Choices Board of Directors

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    To commemorate the first day of national hospice month, Compassion & Choices announced today it has appointed a leading expert in hospice and end-of-life care, Dr. Lucille Ridgill, to its board of directors. Dr. Ridgill also serves on Compassion and Choices’ African American Leadership Council and its Strategic Impact Committee.

    The African American Leadership Council works to increase awareness of end-of-life care options in the African American community by engaging with diverse organizations and sharing experiences African Americans face at the end of life. Dr. Ridgill is an integral member of the team. She has attended a lobby day, represents Compassion & Choices at medical conferences and works to advance end-of-life care education on the national level. She also served on Compassion and Choices’ Strategic Impact Committee, which helped create an innovative strategic plan that will help guide the organization over the next 5 years.

    Dr. Ridgill is a Site Medical Director at AltaMed, the nation’s largest network of community-based primary care clinics and senior care programs, overseeing clinical patient care. AltaMed is headquartered in Commerce, California.

    Dr. Ridgill is a diplomate of the American Board of Internal Medicine and is board certified in hospice and palliative medicine. She is also a visiting physician at VITAS Healthcare in Coastal Cities, California. Dr. Ridgill completed her residency at UCLA-Charles Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles. She received a Bachelor’s Degree from Creighton University and a medical degree from Creighton University Medical School, in Omaha, Nebraska.

    “Dr. Ridgill is an amazing asset to Compassion & Choices who has generously given her time and lent her medical expertise to Compassion & Choices’ Strategic Impact Committee and African American Leadership Council,” said Kim Callinan, CEO of Compassion & Choices. “We look forward to Dr. Ridgill’s expanded role as a board member in advancing our mission of improving care and expanding options at the end of life.”  

    “The California End of Life Option Act has spurred conversations with terminally ill adults about all their end-of-life options, including hospice and palliative care, to minimize suffering and maximize quality of life” said Dr. Ridgill, “Compassion & Choices is instrumental in ensuring that people across the country are aware of their options at the end of life and able to access them.”

    Medical aid in dying has been authorized in the District of Columbia and seven states: California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Collectively, these eight jurisdictions represent nearly one out of five Americans (19%) and have 40 years of combined experience safely using this end-of-life care option. Between 80 and 90 percent of terminally ill adults who utilize medical aid in dying are enrolled in hospice, according to annual reports in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington.

    A 2016 Medscape online survey showed 7,500 doctors nationwide from 25 medical specialties support medical aid in dying by nearly a 2–1 margin (57% to 29%).

    National and state polls show a majority of Americans across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum support medical aid in dying. This majority includes African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, conservatives, Democrats/Democratic-leaning independents, liberals, moderates, Republicans/Republican-leaning independents, Catholics, Christians, Protestants, people of other faiths, and people living with disabilities.

  9. Westchester County New York Residents Benefit from “Choices & Conversations at Life’s End” Forum

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    Compassion & Choices New York hosted an open community discussion on Thursday night: “Choices & Conversations at Life’s End,” a thoughtful discussion on expanding options and improving care in New York. Co-hosts of the event included New York Civil Liberties Union Lower Hudson Valley Chapter, Westchester League of Women Voters, WESPAC, the Ethical Society of Northern Westchester, and Briarcliff-Ossining Ministerial Association.

    NY Assemblymember Amy Paulin, sponsor of the NY Medical Aid in Dying Act, speaking at “Choices & Conversations at Life’s End” event at Jewish Community Center of Westchester County in Scarsdale.

    Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-Westchester), the Assembly sponsor of New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act (A.2383-a/S.3151-a), said: “It is often difficult discussing end-of-life issues with family and friends but those are important conversation to have. Similarly, it’s important for me as a legislator to hear what New Yorkers really want when it comes to improving care and expanding options for those approaching the end of life. I always find these to be very moving and emotional experiences. Last night was no exception.

    “I am proud to sponsor the Medical Aid in Dying Act and I was heartened that the vast majority of those who attended the forum support the legislation, as do the majority of New Yorkers,” Paulin said. “We’ve spent several years listening to New Yorkers about their views and helping to educate them about options at the end of life, including medical aid in dying, which is now authorized in seven state and Washington, D.C. I am committed to making 2019 the year New York joins that list.”

    New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act would allow mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to have the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to peacefully end their suffering if it becomes unbearable. This end-of-life option is available in California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and starting Jan. 1, in Hawai’i. Collectively, these eight jurisdictions represent nearly one of five Americans (19%) and have a combined 40 years of safely implementing this medical practice. The New York State Academy of Family Physicians has endorsed the bill.

    Dr. David Grube, Compassion & Choices National Medical Director, said: “As a family physician who has written prescriptions for medical aid in dying in Oregon, I know what a relief it is for terminally ill adults when they get the medication. It allows them to enjoy their remaining time with their loved ones, knowing they won’t have to suffer needlessly at life’s end. And these laws improve care for many terminally ill adults who may not use this option, by spurring them to discuss all their end-of-life care options with their doctor, including hospice and palliative care, and to better utilize them sooner and more effectively.”

  10. End-of-Life Care Advocacy Group Hosted Day of the Dead Celebration

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    To recognize Day of the Dead, Compassion & Choices, along with community members, honored the memory of loved ones who have passed. In addition to honoring our loved ones, legislators and advocates, who support the New Mexico End of Life Options Act, spoke on behalf of their support of the legislation. The bill would allow terminally ill, mentally capable adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take to die peacefully if their suffering becomes unbearable.

    “We have lost some powerful and courageous advocates in recent years who gave us their precious time during their last days of life,” said Elizabeth Armijo, Regional Campaign & Outreach Manager for Compassion & Choices. “We gathered to ensure that terminally-ill New Mexicans and their families are aware that the End of Life Options Act would allow them to evaluate additional healthcare options available to them at the end of life.”

    Advocates from different cultures and supporters kicked off the Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos) celebration at Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce with a procession led by Matachines danced. Outside was a colorful and decorated altar surrounded by photos of Brittany Maynard, Latino advocate Miguel Carrasquillo and other loved ones.

    “New Mexicans should have the freedom to choose the end of life options that are right for them,” said Representative Deborah Armstrong of Albuquerque. “We should be able to make this private and personal decision – in consultation with our doctors, our family and our faith. No one should be forced to suffer as they die.”

    Maria D. Otero, co-founder of Nuestra Salud, a community-based organization,  spoke on her father-in-law, Pablo, a devout Catholic who died two months ago from a very aggressive cancer that spread to his bones.

    “This is not living,” Maria said as she recalled her father-in-law’s words. “Please give me something to stop the pain to end my suffering.”

    The City Councils in Santa Fe and Albuquerque recently voted on bipartisan resolutions in support of medical aid-in-dying legislation in New Mexico. The New Mexico End of Life Options Act will be closely modeled after medical aid-in-dying legislation in Oregon, Washington, Vermont, California, Colorado, Montana,Washington D.C. and Hawaiʻi’. Collectively, these 8 jurisdictions represent 19 percent of the nation’s population and 30 percent of the Latino population.

    The Councils’ support shows the growing momentum for medical aid-in-dying legislation in New Mexico. In 2019, New Mexico’s legislators will have the opportunity once again pass the legislation which 80% of New Mexicans support.

    Background

    Seven years ago, the ACLU of New Mexico and Compassion & Choices filed suit on behalf of two Albuquerque oncologists and a cancer patient from Santa Fe asserting that the New Mexico constitution authorized medical aid in dying for terminally ill New Mexico residents. In 2014, New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Nan Nash issued a landmark ruling that terminally ill, mentally capable patients have a fundamental right to aid in dying under the substantive due process clause of the New Mexico State Constitution.

    Unfortunately, in 2016 the New Mexico Supreme Court overturned that decision by ruling that terminally ill New Mexicans do not have a constitutional right to a physician’s assistance in dying, calling for “robust debate” in the legislature instead.

    In response, the ACLU of New Mexico, Compassion & Choices and the NM End of Life Options Coalition have worked hand-in-hand with state Representative Deborah Armstrong, Representative Bill McCamley, and Senator Liz Stefanics to follow through on that recommendation.

    The celebration occurs four years to the day since the death of Brittany Maynard, the California woman who moved to Oregon so she could die peacefully when she could no longer tolerate the suffering caused by a glioblastoma, the same kind of brain cancer that recently killed U.S. Senator John McCain.

    Brittany’s advocacy inspired California, Colorado, the District of Columbia and Hawai‘i to pass laws authorizing medical aid in dying since she died on Nov. 1, 2014. Thanks to previously passed laws in Oregon, Washington, Vermont and a Montana Supreme Court ruling in a lawsuit filed by Compassion & Choices, nearly one out of five Americans live in a jurisdiction where this end-of-life care option is available.

     


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