End-of-Life Choice, Death with Dignity, Palliative Care and Counseling

Barbara Coombs Lee

Tutu’s Support for Death With Dignity Will Advance Issue Worldwide, Says Advocacy Group

Oregon Death-with-Dignity Law Coauthor Welcomes Archbishop’s Change of Heart  

Photograph: News Pictures/Rex Features

(Washington, DC – July 14, 2014) A coauthor of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act welcomed one of the world’s preeminent religious leaders, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, for reversing his position and backing a British bill modeled after Oregon’s first in the nation aid-in-dying law.

“Archbishop Tutu’s endorsement of death with dignity is stunning and of great significance,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, an attorney who was an ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant for 25 years. “I am certain it will advance the issue in Britain, the United States and worldwide. There is no person alive with greater moral authority than Desmond Tutu.”

Writing in the Sunday [London] Observer, the 82-year-old retired Anglican archbishop, revered as the “moral conscience” of South Africa, said:

“I have been fortunate to spend my life working for dignity for the living. Now I wish to apply my mind to the issue of dignity for the dying. I revere the sanctity of life – but not at any cost,” Archbishop Tutu said.

“I have come to realise that I do not want my life to be prolonged artificially. I think when you need machines to help you breathe then you have to ask questions about the quality of life being experienced …

”People should die a decent death. For me that means having had the conversations with those I have crossed with in life and being at peace. It means being able to say goodbye to loved ones – if possible, at home.”

Diane Rehm Advocates for Aid in Dying After Husband’s Painful Death From Parkinson’s

“‘I would like to, in every state across the country, in every city, in every county, I would very much like to see a justification, an allowance, for aid in dying.’”

Those are the words of award-winning radio host Diane Rehm in an interview published Tuesday by NBCNews.com following her husband’s painful death from Parkinson’s disease late last month. The story vividly illustrated the need for every U.S. state to pass a death-with-dignity law.

If you want to support end-of-life choice and provide a full range of options to those in their final days, please take a moment to sign our nationwide petition. It’s important.

Sign the petition now by clicking here.

Rehm did the NBCNews.com interview after she hosted her WAMU show on Monday entitled “Choosing to Die,” during which she and her guests discussed the aid-in-dying movement and what is driving its growth. Her guests included Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, former C&C board member and psychiatrist James Lieberman, Morris v. New Mexico plaintiff and oncologist Dr. Katherine Morris, and C&C supporter Alexa Fraser, whose dying, Parkinson’s disease-stricken father Alex Fraser, fatally shot himself because there is no death-with-dignity law in Maryland, where he lived. More

Barbara Mancini Vindicated by Expose About Dismissed “Assisted Suicide” Case Against Her

“Complete perjury. It’s a bald-faced lie.”

That was Barbara Mancini’s reaction in the July 3 Philadelphia City Paper to testimony by the hospice nurse during the preliminary hearing in the year-long “assisted suicide” case against her for the death of her terminally ill 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw. Mancini had been under a gag order until the judge dismissed the case in February citing “the lack of competent evidence.”

This outstanding investigative report includes numerous revelations about the case:

  1. The first interview with Schuylkill County Coroner David Moylan about his claim on Joe Yourshaw’s death certificate that his manner of death was “homicide.”
  2. Provides new details about this outrageous prosecution by the Pennsylvania attorney general’s office, including a threatening e-mail sent by the prosecutor to Barbara Mancini’s first defense attorney.
  3. Compassion & Choices’ key role in defending Barbara Mancini and publicizing her case.

Below are excerpts of the story:

“‘When I found out what that death certificate said, I remember saying to my husband, ‘I’m screwed. They’re using me for politics,’” says Mancini.

“… records show that Moylan and [arresting officer] Captain Durkin were present at Yourshaw’s autopsy, though each works about an hour’s drive away. Moylan says he recalls being there, but not what was discussed. The section of the autopsy report dealing with the circumstances of death, which is the information Starling-Roney would use to determine manner of death as homicide or suicide, reflects that much of the information he was working with was hearsay that Mancini never had a chance to deny. More

Celebrating a Year of Choice in Vermont

Hello Friends,

One year ago today, we achieved a remarkable victory in Vermont when Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a new law giving Vermonters more freedom over their end-of-life choices. The act made Vermont the fourth state to grant this liberty and the first to do so by vote of its legislature.

That historic moment was just the beginning.

As soon as the law went into effect, Compassion & Choices launched a comprehensive effort to give residents, caregivers, healthcare professionals, insurers — anyone and everyone touched by the law — the informed, supportive guidance they deserved — and which the hard-won law itself needs to succeed.

Celebrate Vermont’s one-year anniversary.

Make a special contribution to Compassion & Choices today.

From decades of hard-won progress, we’ve learned that what happens after a law goes into effect is just as important as what happens before. Careful, expert implementation grounds these laws securely in patient awareness, public understanding and medical practice. It’s why we can consistently point to Oregon, Washington and Montana and say with utmost certainty: These laws work. More

It Takes all Kinds

Those who follow our issues have been delighted to see a diverse and energetic movement emerging before them. Compassion & Choices’ transformation from a single organization to leader of a powerful movement is happening so fast it’s hard to keep up with all the exciting developments and changes every month.

Issue advocacy becomes a “movement” when it gets big, strong and visibly diverse. That’s happening to us right now. You’ll see growth, strength and diversity everywhere on the pages of this magazine. Especially diversity.

Opponents like to say end-of-life dignity and choice matter only to the white, healthy, educated and unchurched. They’ve always been wrong about that. Born during the AIDS epidemic, Compassion & Choices’ work on aid in dying always included large contingents of LGBT individuals, educated or not. Progressive religious congregations have always been behind us. People with disabilities have always known death with dignity furthers the principle of autonomy they hold dear. People of color have always wanted their healthcare wishes known and honored. More