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Harris Poll Shows Need for Policies Supporting End-of-Life Choice

PORTLAND, OR – Compassion & Choices, the nation’s largest and oldest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life, today reacted to a new Harris Poll on end-of-life issues. The poll shows overwhelming support for autonomy at the end of life and for patient-centered consultation with physicians.

The poll shows more than two-thirds (70%) of adults agree terminally ill patients should be able to choose aid in dying. Two-thirds (67%) think doctors should consult with their terminally ill patients who want information on all possible options in end-of-life care, from aggressive treatment to comfort care alone.

“Once again the American people are ahead of politicians, who are unwilling or unable to adopt public policies to support the choices their constituents want,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices. “Socially conservative politicians across the country continue to ignore the overwhelming public support for aid in dying. One Montana legislator wants to nullify that state’s own Supreme Court, which recognized the right to physician aid in dying in 2009. We see a federal unwillingness to compensate doctors for consultation on their patients’ treatment desires. Fortunately, signs of hope appear in the patient-centered consultation bills recently passed in California and New York.”

People who want information on advance care planning, or who are facing a terminal illness, can get information from Compassion & Choices at www.compassionandchoices.org/g2g, or by calling 1 800 247 7421.

“The vast majority of Americans want to know about their end-of-life choices,” says Coombs Lee, “and they want aid in dying to be among those choices. It’s time politicians caught up with the people. Aid in dying should be an optional component of standard end-of-life practice throughout the nation. Patient-centered consultation with physicians should be the norm.”