Compassion & Choices is committed to enforcing and expanding the rights of terminally ill people. Through our work in the courts, we fight to ensure that everyone can receive high-quality end-of-life care that is in line with their values, wishes
and beliefs. We have been at the forefront of end-of-life care legal issues. Examples include the fight to explicitly authorize, expand and defend access to medical aid in dying as well as the effort to remove unnecessary restrictions from and secure
compliance with advance care planning documents. In every case it is involved in, Compassion & Choices’ legal team prioritizes and seeks to advance patient-directed care.
Dr. Chandana Banerjee (left) and Kim Callinan (right)
Compassion & Choices Action Network strongly challenges the arguments of several disability groups and two people with disabilities who filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday in the Central District of California against California officials challenging
the End of Life Option Act. The plaintiffs claim that the recently updated California medical-aid-in-dying law, which took effect in 2022, discriminates against people with disabilities by
violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the U.S. Constitution's due process and equal protection clauses in the 14th Amendment.
The California End of Life Option Act specifies that: "If there are indications of a mental disorder, the (attending) physician shall refer the patient for a mental
health specialist assessment … No aid-in-dying drugs shall be prescribed until the mental health specialist determines that the individual has the capacity to make medical decisions and is not suffering from impaired judgment due to a mental
The law also requires the attending physician to advise the patient about “feasible alternatives or additional treatment options, including, but not limited to, comfort care, hospice care, palliative care, and pain control.”
“Having a disability alone does not allow someone access to aid-in-dying medications under the current law. People with disabilities who would qualify for the law must have a prognosis of six months or less to live, and even in those circumstances,
they still may not be eligible,” said Dr. Chandana Banerjee, a physician and associate professor who practices medical aid in dying at City of Hope National Medical Center.
In addition, the retired longtime executive director of Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) from 1991-2019, which has federal authority to act as a watchdog for people with disabilities
and request confidential records, confirmed in a 2019 letter:
“In the years since passage of the  Oregon Death with Dignity Act (the Act) … DRO has never to my knowledge received a complaint that a person with disabilities was coerced or being coerced to make use of the Act.” [Bold font
added to original copy]
“Rates of assisted dying in Oregon ... showed no evidence of heightened
risk for the elderly, women, the uninsured ... people with low educational status, the poor, the physically disabled or chronically ill … people with psychiatric illnesses including depression, or racial or ethnic minorities, compared with background
The Compassion & Choices family comprises two organizations: Compassion & Choices (the 501(c)(3)), whose focus is expanding access, public education and litigation; and Compassion & Choices Action Network (the 501(c)(4)), whose focus is legislative work at the federal and state levels.