Compassion & Choices today announced it has appointed a lobbyist and a pastor, both of whom helped in its campaign to pass the 2015 California End of Life Option Act, to its board of directors. The new board members are the Rev. Madison T. Shockley II, the pastor of the Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, CA, and Mark Weideman, founder and principal of Weideman Group, California’s premier legislative, strategy and government affairs firm based in Sacramento.
Weideman is Compassion & Choices’ chief California lobbyist and spearheaded the legislative strategy that led to enactment of California’s End of Life Option Act. Rev. Shockley was a volunteer advocate and spokesperson for Compassion & Choices during the campaign to pass the law and was appointed to the organization’s African-American Leadership Council last November.
“We could not have passed the California law without Mark and Madison’s leadership and inspiration,” said Kim Callinan, CEO of Compassion & Choices. “They already have paid great dividends in helping to fulfill Compassion & Choices’ mission to expand end-of-life care options, so I know they will help us even more in their expanded roles as board members.”
Weideman received his Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of California at Berkeley. He earned his law degree with honors in written and oral advocacy from the University of California Hastings College of Law.
“One of the proudest moments in my life is when Gov. Brown signed the End of Life Option Act into law because I knew it would reduce suffering for many terminally ill Californians,” said Weideman. “I am excited to become a Compassion & Choices board member because it will enable me to do even more to advance this worthy cause.”
Pastor Shockley began writing commentary for the Los Angeles Times in 1998 and in 2005 he became a contributor to the award-winning website, Truthdig.com, on a wide range of topics including religion, race, politics, reproductive choice and popular culture. A native of Los Angeles he was educated at Harvard College and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He holds the Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and has done advanced graduate work at Claremont Graduate University in New Testament Studies.
“I have devoted my life to teaching people that our creator is a loving God who does not want people to suffer,” said Pastor Shockley. “That’s why I am honored to help Compassion & Choices expand end-of-life care options that enable people to die peacefully at home, surrounded by their loved ones.”
Compassion & Choices also announced it has re-appointed Dr. Haider Warraich to its board of directors. He authored an acclaimed book detailing the impact modern medicine has had on the dying experience: Modern Death – How Medicine Changed the End of Life (St Martin’s Press). Dr. Warraich is an avid clinical researcher, with articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Medical Association and the Lancet, among others. Currently, he is training in cardiology at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
“We are thrilled Dr. Warraich will continue as a board member for us because is a brilliant new voice in the discussion about death and end-of-life care options, including patient-driven care, hospice, palliative care and medical aid in dying,” said Callinan. “As a physician, researcher and writer, he has the clinical experience and influence to help transform the medical system from within to make it more patient-driven.”
Medical aid in dying has been authorized in the District of Columbia and seven states: California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington. Collectively, these eight jurisdictions represent nearly one out of five Americans (19%) and have 40 years of combined experience safely using this end-of-life care option.
A 2016 Medscape online survey showed 7,500 doctors nationwide from 25 medical specialties support medical aid in dying by nearly a 2–1 margin (57% to 29%).
National and state polls show a majority of Americans across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum support medical aid in dying. This majority includes African Americans, Asian Americans, Latinos, conservatives, Democrats/Democratic-leaning independents, liberals, moderates, Republicans/Republican-leaning independents, Catholics, Christians, Protestants, people of other faiths, and people living with disabilities.