As my 35-year-old friend Miguel Carrasquillo took his last breath in June, he urged fellow Latinos to embrace the option of medical aid in dying to prevent the unbearable suffering that he experienced because it was not available to him.
Miguel became Compassion & Choices’ first terminally ill Latino advocate for medical aid in dying when he recorded videos in English and in Spanish to urge legislators in his native Puerto Rico and his former home states of Illinois and New York to pass medical aid-in-dying legislation. A Catholic, Miguel proudly referred to himself as the “Latino Brittany Maynard.”
Six months have passed since Miguel died in Puerto Rico from an aggressive brain tumor that caused severe headaches, blackouts and electric shocks throughout his body.
And today, it gives me great pleasure to announce that 69% of Hispanics nationwide support medical aid in dying, according to a new online survey conducted by LifeWay Research.
This survey comes just two weeks after CNN en Español aired a very powerful story that credited Compassion & Choices for advancing the medical-aid-in-dying movement in the United States.
One month ago, when Colorado voters passed the End-of-Life Options Act on Election Night, both men and women, Hispanics and whites, and people with and without college degrees said they backed the proposal, according to exit polling conducted for The Associated Press and television networks in Colorado.
This week, Compassion & Choices launched a statewide bilingual campaign in Colorado to educate terminally ill Coloradans, families and medical providers about the benefits and requirements of the state’s new medical aid-in-dying law that is expected to take effect later this month. The campaign mirrors one we launched in California earlier this year and in New York last month.
Our outreach to Latinos will continue, as will our efforts to educate Hispanics, medical professionals and healthcare organizations throughout the country.
On June 3, I received Miguel’s last call. His voice was frail. He was in so much pain, but he reminded me to keep the medical aid-in-dying issue alive among Latinos after he was gone.
Miguel died two days later, but he accomplished so much at the end of his life by challenging taboos surrounding death — and by extension, medical aid in dying — that persist within the Latino culture. He urged his community, and the entire nation, to speak openly to their doctors about the kind of care they want at the end of life.
I wonder whether the results of this week’s national survey had anything to do with Miguel’s support.
I strongly believe they did.