End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Aid in Dying

A Message From Connecticut

Hello friends,

As you may have heard we have been unable to move our bill from the Public Health Committee, but we will not go quietly and here is why we will continue this fight:  

We know inaction has consequences.  It means more end-of-life suffering for thousands of terminally ill Connecticut residents, including those who have been denied the peace of mind knowing this choice is available. Moreover, we have polling on our side, history on our side, but most importantly, we have you on our side, and you make passage of a permissive end-of-life choice bill in Connecticut inevitable.

You sent thousands of e-mails and made calls to key legislators on the Public Health Committee to beat back over 10 lobbying firms hired by the opposition. You forced the Public Health Committee to convene a public hearing and came in droves to the Capitol to make your voice heard.

We are so proud of you and all of our legislative champions in Hartford: Attorney General George Jespen, Comptroller Kevin Lembo, Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri, Deputy Speaker Betsy Ritter, Senator Gary Holder-Winfield, Senator Ed Meyer and Representative Phil Miller.

Please take a few seconds to send a quick e-mail to thank them by
CLICKING HERE.

We’ve done all of the work for you. Just CLICK HERE.

Marisa and I cannot thank you enough for all you did this year – the work isn’t done, the fight isn’t over, and we look forward to working with you in the weeks and months ahead to make sure that we can bring aid in dying to Connecticut.

Best,

Tim Appleton signature.jpg

Tim Appleton

Compassion & Choices – Connecticut Campaign Manager

Newspapers urge Pa. Atty. Gen. not to appeal dismissal of assisted suicide case against Barbara Mancini

Since a judge’s Feb., 11 dismissal of the unjust “assisted suicide” case against Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini for the death of her terminally ill, 93-year-old father Joe Yourshaw, many Pennsylvania newspapers have published columns or editorials urging Pa. Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane not to appeal the ruling. Kane faces a Mar. 13 deadline to file an appeal, but the newspaper columns and editorials are blasting her office for even bringing the case in the first place. The most recent one today by The [Allentown] Morning Call says her “credibility has been hurt” by the judge’s “scathing court ruling.”

Below are excerpts of the best columns and editorials:

The [Allentown, Pa.] Morning Call, Kathleen Kane’s credibility as state attorney general has been hurt by a scathing court ruling,” Feb. 19, 2014

State Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s criminal case against a woman who tried to help her dying 93-year-old father was not just weak. It was, as revealed in a scathing court ruling last week, nonexistent.

It was an outrage, although not a surprise, that the prosecution of Barbara Mancini had been approved in a preliminary hearing by Pottsville Magisterial District Judge James Reiley. Many DJs rubber-stamp anything put in front of them by prosecutors.

The surprise, a stunning one, was that the attorney general of Pennsylvania pursued this case in defiance of a state law, which should be clear to anyone who can read. She also defied a key ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judge, however, went far beyond that, using words like “deceptive” and “strident” to describe the way Kane went after Mancini. Going by this ruling, one gets the impression that Kane has all the compassion and grace of Attila the Hun ….more

The [Harrisburg, Pa.] Patriot News (state capitol newspaper)Will Kathleen Kane finally ensure justice in Mancini case? Editorial,” Feb. 17, 2014

A word of advice to Attorney General Kathleen Kane as she decides whether to appeal a judge’s dismissal of charges against Barbara Mancini:

Don’t.                                                                

Don’t prolong the agony inflicted by an end-of-life case that produced needless suffering, both to the man who was dying and to the adult daughter who tried to abide by his wishes.

Don’t keep trying to prosecute a woman, herself a nurse, who did only what her dying father, who was in excruciating pain, asked her to do: hand him his pain-relieving medicine.

Barbara Mancini is no criminal. She told the hospice staff what she’d done for her father, 93-year-old Joseph Yourshaw of Pottsville. She knew she’d done nothing wrong. She honored his request to help relieve his pain, which is perfectly legal…more

The [Carlisle, Pa.] Sentinel, Editorial, “Our View: Appeal in Mancini case unwarranted,” Feb. 16, 2014

Judicial chastisement for prosecutorial ineptness is difficult for any lawyer to swallow. If the state’s top law enforcement officer is on the receiving end, the slapdown carries a double sting.

Such admonishment came Tuesday from Schuykill County Court Judge Jacqueline Russell to Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane regarding the commonwealth’s attempt to prosecute Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini on assisted suicide charges in connection with the death of her 93-year-old, terminally ill father.

Judge Russell wrote in dismissing the charges that the state’s case against 58-year-old Mancini “appears to have been based on little independent investigation, significant hearsay, including double hearsay received from third persons — speculation, guess, and defendant’s alleged incriminating statements.”…more

Philadelphia Daily News (Barbara Mancini’s home town newspaper), “DN Editorial: CURSE OF KANE,” Feb. 14, 2014

Attorney General Kathleen Kane…inexplicably prosecuted a dutiful, loving daughter for allegedly assisting her father’s suicide.

Kane lost the case this week against Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini, which was thrown out by Schuylkill County Judge Jacqueline Russell. The 47-page decision chastised Kane’s attempt to build a prosecution on “little independent investigation, significant hearsay, including double hearsay received from third persons – speculation, guess and defendant’s alleged incriminating statements.”

… The damage to Kane, of course, is of no concern compared to the horrendous damage she inflicted upon Mancini, accused of killing her father, Joe Yourshaw, 93, whom she’d been caring for in his Pottsville home duing the excruciating pain and suffering of his terminal illness …more

The [Scranton, Pa.] Times-Tribune (Pa. Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane’s home town newspaper), Editorial, “Forgo appeal on Mancini,” Feb. 14, 2014

 It turns out that the fundamental problem wasn’t public policy, but that the attorney general’s office presented a lousy case.

The judge appears to have committed a mercy killing of a bad case. Mrs. Kane should let it go…more

Court Rules Aid in Dying Is a Fundamental Right Under NM Constitution

Landmark Case May Set Precedent for Challenging “Assisted Suicide” Laws in Other States

(Albuquerque, N.M. – January 13, 2014) New Mexico Second Judicial District Judge Nan Nash today issued a landmark decision that terminally ill, mentally competent patients have a fundamental right to aid in dying under the substantive due process clause of the New Mexico State Constitution. This ruling protects the medical practice from prosecution in Bernalillo County, New Mexico. If affirmed, the ruling will impact the entire state.

Judge Nash explained her ruling as follows:

“This Court cannot envision a right more fundamental, more private or more integral to the liberty, safety and happiness of a New Mexican than the right of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying. If decisions made in the shadow of one’s imminent death regarding how they and their loved ones will face that death are not fundamental and at the core of these constitutional guarantees, than [sic] what decisions are? … The Court therefore declares that the liberty, safety and happiness interest of a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying is a fundamental right under our New Mexico Constitution.”

Nash’s ruling followed two days of trial testimony on Dec. 11-12 in a suit, Morris v. New Mexico, filed in the state’s Second Judicial District Court by the ACLU of New Mexico and Compassion & Choices on behalf of two physicians and a cancer patient. More

DNR: A Supporter’s Story

 

Mr. Demarest powerfully exposes how the medical system  disregards the most thorough end-of-life plans with  its default mode to provide treatment – no matter the  patient’s circumstances and wishes.

The stories Mr. Demarest and others shared complement our national campaign to stop this tragedy and raise awareness to ensure that someday we’ll all be allowed to die with peace and dignity.

My father prided himself on doing everything right, by planning everything in advance. By the time he was in his 70s and I was in my 30s, he had shown me where he kept the key to his filing cabinet and where I could find his stash of silver coins. He told me about his will. And his living will.

I watched as Pop declined from a spry 85-year old who won sailing races on Glen Wild Lake and traveled to China and all over the United States to run his business, to a 95-year old who hobbled around, first with a couple of canes, then a walker, and finally in a wheelchair, while his wife Eileen ran the business.

During this decline, we discussed his living will more than once. When the time came, there were to be no heroic measures. There were to be no feeding tubes and no respirators, no CPR and no defibrillation. We neglected to discuss the most important part of his living will. Under just what circumstances were there to be no heroic measures? Did he believe at the age of 95, that he had reached that point? I didn’t ask, nor did I look at a copy of the living will. Everything seemed to be far off in the future, and I lived 3,000 miles away. His end-of-life plans were the responsibility of his wife, Eileen.

A few days before Pop’s 96th birthday, he and Eileen planned to go out to dinner with friends. Two of the friends, Jane and Angie, wheeled Pop out of the house and transferred him into the car. Almost immediately, he said, “I want to go home,” started to get out of the car, and slumped back into the seat, not moving. Angie interpreted his statement to mean I want to go to Heaven, and said to Pop, “it’s all right, you can go.”

Jane called 911. Pop’s house was on a long, hilly, twisty one-lane road,. and there was no expectation that emergency personnel would arrive quickly, A few neighbors came over until there were a half dozen people standing in the driveway while the minutes ticked by with Pop, or rather his dead body, sitting in the front seat of the car. During these ten minutes waiting for help, any possibility that Pop, not breathing, could survive slipped away

When the policeman arrived, he moved the body from the car to the driveway and began administering CPR. The ambulance arrived with the EMT, who continued the CPR and then used the defibrillator, applying the paddles and the electric shock to Pop’s chest. They loaded Pop’s body into the ambulance, still doing CPR, and everybody followed to the hospital where he was officially pronounced dead.

I can’t blame Eileen or Pop’s friends and neighbors for not attempting CPR, because I don’t know the wording of Pop’s living will. I’m sure that the police and the EMT followed the rules by attempting CPR and defibrillation. I’m also sure that my father never would have wanted people pounding on his dead body for more than a half hour, and that’s what happened.

At the hospital, Jane asked the EMT about the CPR and defibrillation. “Why did you do this?”

“It’s for the widow.”

– Harry Demarest

Talking Turkey Over Turkey

The holiday season is coming, and with it dinners and get-togethers with family and loved ones. Yes, you guessed it: It’s the perfect time to sit down and talk about your end-of-life wishes.

Seriously. With siblings and multiple generations united, conditions are ideal to talk turkey about an important issue we all will face. Need to get Mom or Dad to discuss their end-of-life preferences? Trying to get your adult children to listen to your thoughts about dying? You’ll find that they are surprisingly receptive at family gatherings. How do you get the conversation started?

After many attempts to get family members engaged, one Compassion & Choices client set her Thanksgiving table with advance directive forms at every place setting and announced, “Nobody gets dinner until these Are filled out.” Now that’s some tough turkey. Your best approach is the one that suits you and those around you. And while the paperwork is important, the essential thing is to get the conversation going!

1.  How do you feel about life support if:

  • you have a terminal illness?
  • you’re in a permanent coma?
  • you have an irreversible chronic illness like Alzheimer’s disease?

2.  Do you always want to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? About your condition? About treatment options and their odds of success? And what success means for quality of life?

3.  What will be important to you when you are dying? No pain? Hold on as long as possible? Family members present? What are your priorities?

4.  Would you want to be placed in a nursing home if your condition warranted?

Are you good to go?

We have the tools you need to guide your conversation and document the results. They’re all in our Good-to-Go Toolkit, and they’re all free:

  • A values worksheet to structure your decision-making.
  • Advance directive forms for every state.
  • An optional dementia provision – that only Compassion & Choices offers.
  • Contract rider for assisted-living facilities contracts. Use this to ensure your new home intends respects your choices.
  • Visit tiny.cc./advance-directive
  • Call 800.247.7421 to get info by mail or to speak to one of our consultants.

Conversation Starters

Here are some ways to get the conversation going.

“I want to be certain you guys know what I would want if I ever get seriously ill or can’t speak for myself. What do you think I would want? What would you say to the doctors for me? What would you want me to say for you?”

“My doctor/attorney/pastor says I need to go over my advance directive with you.”

“If one of us ever had to make decisions about your treatment because you couldn’t, it would be much easier if we knew what you really want.”

Download and Print These Valuable Tools

Talking Turkey Conversation Starter

This one-page conversation starter will help you get the ball rolling at your next family gathering.

Download

Fall Magazine and Annual Report

Download the full Fall Magazine and Annual Report here for the full text of Talking Turkey and much more.

Download