Compassion & Choices today released a public service announcement in Spanish featuring Mexican actor Mauricio Ochmann urging Latinos to support the bipartisan Medical Aid in Dying Act that was reintroduced last month at the state Capitol.
Ochmann, known as “Chema Venegas” in the popular Telemundo telenovelas El Chema and El Señor de los Cielos, recorded the 15-second video in Los Angeles. The video was released exclusively today by People en Español. Click here to view it.
“Hi, I’m Mauricio Ochmann, and I support Compassion & Choices’ death-with-dignity campaign because it’s my life, my death and my choice,” he states in the PSA.
Medical aid in dying has been making headlines among Latinos in New York because of the advocacy of recently deceased Miguel Carrasquillo and the new support for this end-of-life option by Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz and Assemblymember Robert J. Rodriguez.
The New York legislation would give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to get a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully if their suffering becomes unbearable. Medical aid in dying is currently authorized in six states: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California and Colorado. In addition, Congress is reviewing a bill the D.C. Council approved to authorize this end-of-life care option.
“We are honored to have the support of Mauricio Ochmann because his endorsement carries great weight, especially among those in the Latino community,” said Patricia A. González-Portillo, Compassion & Choices’ national communications manager. “We hope ‘El Chema’s’ popularity among this important community will help convince people who are considering supporting medical aid-in-dying legislation.”
Miguel’s horrific suffering from terminal brain cancer prompted him to record videos in English and in Spanish to urge legislators across the country to pass medial aid-in-dying laws, including in his former home states of New York and Illinois, and native Puerto Rico. Miguel also recorded this this cell phone video on May 25, 2016, just 11 days before his agonizing death on June 5, 2016 (Spanish version of video).
Eight months have passed since Miguel, a Catholic, died at the young age of 35. But his death is already making a difference among the Latino community he fought for until his last breath.
In fact, 69% of Hispanics nationwide support medical aid in dying, according to a new survey conducted by LifeWay Research. Most religious group members who participated in the survey also said medical aid in dying is “morally acceptable,” including 70% of Catholics, 59% of all Christians, 53% of Protestants, 70% of people in other religions and 84% of those who identified as nonreligious.
“As Latinos, we learn early on to accept death because of our culture’s reverence to celebrate the lives of our beloved dead,” Ochmann said. “However, we are afraid to talk about death itself,” he states in a separate interview. “We must honor our dying loved ones in their final days and give them the opportunity to control the timing and manner of their passing.”
“I know I am going to die because that is a guarantee in life. I don’t know when, but when that time comes, I have told my family and the people I love that I do not want to be connected to tubes, catheters and needles,” Ochmann added. “I will take the pain until it is intolerable. But once it becomes unbearable, I will die with dignity.”
Assistant Speaker Felix W. Ortiz referred to the bill as a “compassionate bill to ensure that we honor those who fought for legislation to expand end-of-life care options for terminally ill adults with appropriate protections to prevent any type abuse and misuse.”
“Medical aid in dying is an end-of-life option that is a matter of personal freedom and liberty,” he said. “We need to stop criminalizing medical aid in dying and honor the wishes of terminally ill individuals.”