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The Powerful Impact of Informed Doctors

bob-dannenhoffer-rebecca-glenn-gordonHaving witnessed tremendous suffering at the end of life, the voice and perspective of physicians makes them critical partners in changing the end-of-life options landscape. So in September of 2014, Compassion & Choices launched Doctors for Dignity. This coalition of physicians supports patient autonomy and advocates for the right to choose from a full range of healthcare options, including aid in dying.

As the end-of-life choice movement gains strength across the nation, there have been increasing opportunities for members of Doctors for Dignity – which now exceeds 2,000 physician advocates – to help. Beyond impactful activities like submitting letters to the editor, testifying before state legislatures or presenting at events, members have recently made impressive headway with a number of influential medical associations.

Drs. Michael Strauss, Beth Morrison and Justine Dembo finalized a resolution requesting a survey of American Psychiatric Association (APA) members regarding their attitudes toward medical aid in dying. Dr. Morrison presented to the Washington Psychiatric Association already and, if approved, will submit to the annual APA meeting in May.

In New York, Drs. Jay Federman and Bob Milch are presenting a draft resolution asking for a survey of members’ attitudes toward medical aid in dying to their county medical societies. If approved, the resolutions will move to the Medical Society of the State of New York (MSSNY) annual meeting in April. At that time, the group can also discuss how MSSNY delegates to the American Medical Association (AMA) will represent the MSSNY position at the AMA annual meeting. And a Doctors for Dignity presentation proposal was accepted by the Hospice & Palliative Care Association of New York for its annual meeting on March 31. Dr. Timothy Quill, Dr. Diana Barnard and Ann Jackson will present: “Responding to Requests for Physician Aid in Dying: Stories from Oregon, Vermont and New York.”

Another proposal to present was accepted by the American Hispanic Medical Association for their annual conference in Washington, D.C., in May. Dr. Robert Olvera will share the tragic personal story of his young daughter Emily Rose’s painful death from cancer and discuss medical aid in dying.

To learn more about or join the initiative, visit our Doctors for Dignity web page.