End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Aid in Dying

Pa. Atty. Gen. Should Drop Case Against Woman Who Cared for Her Dying Father

Contact: Sean Crowley, 202-495-8520

End-of-Life Legal Experts Say State’s Case Has No Legal Foundation

(Pottsville, Pa. – Aug. 1, 2013) Following a preliminary hearing today, legal experts from the nation’s leading end-of-life choice group urged the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office to drop an assisted suicide charge against a woman who was present when her 93-year-old, terminally ill father ingested morphine to relieve his pain and later died because the case has no legal foundation. Authorities allege that Barbara Mancini, a registered nurse from Philadelphia, handed her father, Joe Yourshaw of Pottsville, a partially filled bottle of morphine at his request. They claim that this act constitutes “assisted suicide.”

Joe Yourshaw was dying. He suffered from multiple medical conditions that caused him extreme pain: end stage diabetes, extensive heart and cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, and arthritis. Dying patients have a constitutional right to adequate pain medication, even if it advances the time of death. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized this right in two landmark cases, Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill, both brought by Compassion & Choices’ predecessor organization, Compassion in Dying. More

End-of-life law: The Oregon experience

By Terri Hallenbeck
July 14, 2013

The first patient to use a lethal prescription that Dr. Nicholas Gideonse wrote was a man suffering from prostate cancer. He was grumpy and cantankerous. His legs were swollen. He was immobile and miserable, Gideonse said.

Once he had the medication in hand, Gideonse said, “He lit up.” The man later gathered his family and took the medication. Just the knowledge that he had regained his autonomy “elevated his mood,” the doctor said.

Gideonse, a family practitioner in Oregon, said he has written two to three dozen prescriptions since then for terminally ill patients who were seeking to hasten their deaths.

From 1997, when Oregon’s law took effect, through 2012, 673 terminally ill patients have used this method to end their lives, according to state statistics. In Washington, where a similar law took effect in 2009, 353 patients have ended their lives with a lethal dose prescribed by a doctor. More

Famed Actor Elliott Gould Recalls Groucho Marx’s Final Days

Elliott GouldCONTACT: Sean Crowley, 202-495-8520-c, scrowley@compassionandchoices.org  

Cancer Patient Seeks Ruling that Doctors Can Provide Aid in Dying in New Mexico

(Washington, D.C. – July 10, 2013) Veteran Hollywood actor Elliott Gould recalls visiting his friend Groucho Marx during his last, painful days of life in the summer issue of Compassion & Choices Magazine (see pages 26-27).

Gould became a star in 1969 when his co-starring role in the sex comedy Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice earned him an Oscar nomination, and he followed that up in 1970 with his co-starring role as Trapper John in M*A*S*H. He continues to work steadily and has done hundreds of films, including The Long Goodbye, American History X, and Ocean’s 11 and its sequels. He’s also well-known to a younger generation as the father of Ross and Monica Geller in the long-running TV sitcom Friends. More

Compassion & Choices Commends Life and Work of Aid-in-Dying Advocate, Former State Rep Ernest “Juggie” Heen

HONOLULU (July 2, 2013)—Compassion & Choices mourns the passing and lauds the work of former Hawaii state representative Ernest “Juggie” Heen, who died June 30 in Honolulu at age 82 after a long bout with cancer.

Juggie was a tireless advocate for end-of-life choice in the 50th state. He was instrumental in helping to launch the Compassion & Choices “Join Juggie” campaign to activate Hawaii’s constellation of laws that empower terminally ill, mentally competent patients to make their own decisions about end-of-life care, treatment for pain and aid in dying. Thanks to his efforts, he had a choice at the end of life—as do the thousands of Hawaii residents who have attended Compassion & Choices meetings and trainings, considered requests for aid in dying, or simply become more aware of their options for a peaceful death. More

Elder Abuse – A National Tragedy

By Ashley Carson Cottingham
National Field Director

On June 15, World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, we take time to acknowledge that an estimated 2.1 million older Americans fall victim to elder abuse, neglect and financial exploitation each year. At Compassion & Choices we work diligently to protect older adults by upholding their rights at the end of life, sometimes when they are no longer able to speak for themselves. And this year we became proud members of the Elder Justice Coalition in Washington, D.C.

Elder abuse occurs on a regular basis, affecting some of the most vulnerable members of our society. What’s even worse is that for every reported case of elder abuse, neglect and exploitation, experts believe there are five that go unreported. We must put an end to it.

Our work has exposed a form of elder abuse that is rarely discussed. It occurs when an older adult’s expressed wishes at the end of life are ignored, and as a result they are subjected to unwanted and invasive medical treatment. We believe this unwanted treatment absolutely constitutes elder abuse. More