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Health on The Hill: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the Patient Rights Movement

Mark Dann, Federal Affairs Director, and Brandi Alexander, National Constituency Manager
Mark Dann, C&C Federal Affairs Director

Mark Dann, C&C Federal Affairs Director

The moral arc of the universe may bend slowly, but it eventually bends toward justice whether it is for civil, human or patient rights. The patient-rights movement to ensure terminally ill adults have access to the full range of end-of-life care options, including of the option to obtain prescription medication they can decide to take to peacefully end unbearable suffering, has much in common with other ones that have preceded it.

Whether a movement’s leaders and supporters met in Seneca Falls, marched in Selma, established Gay Pride events or now rally in state capitals demanding control over their end-of-life decision, they all have one thing in common: They are grassroots-based movements, returning power and decision-making to people, and opponents initially dismissed them. Compassion & Choices’ grassroots movement to expand end-of-life care options is fueled by over 450,000 supporters, 65,000 volunteers and 45,000 donors who contribute $250 or less each year.

As a member of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, we are able to engage other coalitions that work with the Leadership Conference in our work by explaining why patient rights matter to their members.

We can learn from other coalition members’ techniques to achieve social progress goals and keep bending that moral arc. The Leadership Conference’s connections enable us to find common ground with our natural allies, whether we agree on a particular issue or not.

Brandi Alexander, C&C National Constituency Manager

Brandi Alexander, C&C National Constituency Manager

We were honored to be part of the Leadership Conference’s annual meeting earlier this month. Many members are apprehensive about what the change in our nation’s leadership will bring. They were wondering if 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.

Compassion & Choices will always be committed to expanding person-centered care at the end-of-life. Fortunately, as a member of coalitions, such as the Leadership Conference, we are secure in the knowledge that we do not have to go it alone.