The patient-rights movement to ensure people have access to the full range of end-of-life care options has much in common with other groups working to improve human and civil rights. Because there’s strength in numbers, Compassion & Choices participates in various coalitions and other groups to enhance the progress of our shared humanitarian goals.
In December, Federal Affairs Director Mark Dann and National Constituency Manager Brandi Alexander attended two important events: the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Annual Meeting and the International LGBT Leaders Conference.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, of which C&C is a member, is a critical coalition that brings together other organizations such as the NAACP, AME Church, Labor and the Arc to mobilize on judicial issues and the importance of having a judiciary that advances civil and human rights, which is critical for C&C’s success with the courts. It also allows us to engage other coalitions that ally with the Leadership Conference in our work by explaining why patient rights matter to their members. At this year’s meeting, many members expressed concern about what the change in our nation’s leadership will bring, wondering whether they still have a place at the negotiating table. Working together, we reminded each other of how we can engage people in policy decision-making, expand the reach of our organizations and keep moving forward.
We support and attended the International LGBT Leaders Conference because collaboration with the LGBT community is critical to the overall success of end-of-life advocacy throughout the country. If not for the LGBT Caucus in California, there would not be an aid-in-dying law there now: All seven members of the California LGBT Caucus voted for the bill, and three Caucus members were co-sponsors. Many other key legislators are members of the LGBT community whether in California, New Jersey or Maryland. At the conference we were able to connect with numerous legislators about aid-in-dying bills in their states and future legislators looking to support and position themselves on our issues.
Compassion & Choices will always be committed to expanding person-centered care at the end-of-life. Fortunately, working together with various coalitions, we are secure in the knowledge that we do not have to go it alone.