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

Death with Dignity

New Brittany Maynard Video Shows Impact of Death-With-Dignity Advocate’s Message

Compassion & Choices Video Released on Eve of Deadline for CA Gov. to Act on Bill Inspired by Maynard

(Washington, D.C. – Oct. 6, 2015) Compassion & Choices today released a new video featuring California death-with-dignity advocate Brittany Maynard to commemorate the first anniversary of the organization’s partnership with Maynard and her family.

The release of never-before-seen excerpts of Maynard’s original video, recorded in Aug. 2014, which launched this historic partnership one year ago today on Oct. 6, 2014, comes one day after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a death-with-dignity bill inspired by her to become law.

“Brittany came on the scene and set in motion a chain of events leading to the passage of an aid-in-dying bill through the California legislature less than one year after her death. We had been trying to do that since 1991,” says Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, who coauthored the Oregon death-with-dignity law. “In 2014, there were aid-in-dying bills in four states. Immediately after Brittany’s emergence on the scene, lawmakers in 25 jurisdictions, plus the District of Columbia, introduced bills.”


Campaign for Death with Dignity Turns to NY on Heels of CA Victory

Campaign for Death with Dignity Turns to NY on Heels of CA Victory

New Poll Shows 3 of 4 NY Voters Support Aid in Dying;

Compassion & Choices Hires Seasoned New York State Campaign Director

Albany, NY – October 6, 2015 – Pivoting from its successful campaign to get aid-in-dying legislation enacted into law in California, Compassion & Choices, the nation’s largest non-profit organization committed to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life, is turning its focus to passing similar legislation in New York.  Touting a new, non-partisan poll showing that three out of four New York voters support this option, Compassion & Choices also announced the expansion of its New York advocacy campaign with the hiring of veteran legislative campaigner, Corinne A. Carey, as its New York State Campaign Director.

The EaglePoint Strategies poll, which has a 3.1 percent margin of error, was conducted September 15-20, before California Governor Jerry Brown signed the California End of Life Option Act. The survey shows strong bipartisan support upstate and downstate for similar legislation here in New York.

According to the poll, 77 percent of New York voters said that a terminally ill, mentally competent adult should be allowed to request a prescription for life-ending medication that they could choose to use to end their suffering in the final stages of dying. When respondents learned more about the bill, including arguments against aid in dying, support for access to the option increased to 81 percent, or to 4 out of 5 voters. More

Calif. Gov.’s Signing of Aid-in-Dying Bill Should Spur Action in Other States

Brittany Maynard’s Story, Victory in Nation’s Most Populous State Will Have Ripple Effect for Death-With-Dignity Movement

(Sacramento, Calif. – Oct. 5, 2015) Gov. Jerry Brown’s signing of California’s End of Life Option Act today should spur legislators in other states to advance bills to allow terminally ill adults the option of medical aid in dying to end unbearable suffering, advocates say.

The bill’s signing into law comes one year after Brittany Maynard and her family launched a partnership with Compassion & Choices on Oct. 6, 2014, to authorize this end-of-life option in California and other states nationwide. Maynard was a 29-year-old Californian who brought international attention to the issue when she had to move to Oregon to utilize its death-with-dignity law, which she utilized to end her suffering from terminal brain cancer on Nov. 1, 2014.

“This is the biggest victory for the death-with-dignity movement since Oregon passed the nation’s first law two decades ago,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, a lawyer, former ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant, who coauthored the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.

“This victory is hugely significant in both substance and scope,” Coombs Lee observed. “Enactment of this law in California means we are providing this option to more than 1 in 10 Americans.” More

Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill Lands on CA Gov.’s Desk

Supporters Optimistic Gov. Brown Will Allow Bill to Become Law

CHP_6726(Sacramento, Calif. – Sept 25, 2015) The clock is ticking for California Gov. Jerry Brown to decide whether he will allow a bill to become law to give terminally ill adults the option of medical aid in dying. The bill would authorize adults with six months or less to live who are facing unbearable suffering to request a doctor’s prescription for medication that they could take to die painlessly and peacefully in their sleep.

Today Gov. Brown received the legislation, known as the End of Life Option Act (ABX2-15), authored by Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, and coauthored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning and Senate Majority Whip Lois Wolk. Brown has 12 days, until Oct. 7, to sign or veto the bill. If he takes no action by midnight on Oct. 7, the legislation automatically becomes law.

“We hope Gov. Brown honors the will of the majority of Californians of every faith and demographic group by allowing the End of Life Option Act to become law.” said Compassion & Choices Campaign Director Toni Broaddus. “Californians just want to know that if they become terminally ill and their suffering becomes unbearable, they have the option to take prescription medication so they can die gently in their sleep.”

Three out of four Californians support the End of Life Option Act (ABX2-15), according to a poll released last month by the Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at the University of California, Berkeley. Support levels included 82 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of independents, 67 percent of Republicans and at least 69 percent across all other demographic categories, from gender to educational, income and age levels.

“We urge Gov. Brown to look into his heart and make his decision based on what it tells him the people of California want and need,” said Christy O’Donnell, a 47-year-old single mom, attorney and former LAPD sergeant from Santa Clarita, who is dying from lung, brain, spine, rib and liver cancer. “Some terminally ill Californians like me are dying painfully because no hospice or palliative medication can relieve our suffering. We just want the option to die peacefully and end our suffering in our final days.”

The legislature passed the End of Life Option Act on Sept. 11, 10 months after the death of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old Californian with terminal brain cancer. She brought international attention to this issue when she had to move to Oregon to utilize its death-with-dignity law last November. In the final weeks of her life, Maynard and her family partnered with Compassion & Choices to launch a campaign on Oct. 6, 2014, to make aid in dying an open and accessible medical option.

The End of Life Option Act is closely modeled after the death-with-dignity law in Oregon. It has worked well for 17 years, without a single documented case of abuse or coercion. Currently, three other states authorize medical aid in dying: Washington, Montana and Vermont. In addition, A New Mexico appellate court recently overturned a district court ruling that aid in dying is a fundamental right under the state constitution. But the case will be heard by the New Mexico Supreme Court.

“No parent should have to watch his or her child suffer like I did,” said Dr. Robert Olvera, a Harvard-trained physician from Santa Ana, whose 25-year-old daughter, Emily Rose, suffered horribly for 17 years from leukemia in her brain before her death last year. “Gov. Brown, please give Californians the option to die peacefully instead of living their last days in excruciating, unbearable pain.”

Story Highlights C&C’s Use of Social Media, Technology to Advance Death with Dignity

By Katie Wingo

Peninsula Press, a project of Stanford Journalism, published a story last week recognizing Compassion & Choices’ smart use of social media and technology to turbo-charge the death-with-dignity movement.

On Oct. 6, 2014, Compassion & Choices launched its partnership with death-with-dignity advocate Brittany Maynard by posting a video of her that catapulted the option of medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults into the forefront of national media attention and legislative initiatives.

“Almost 12 million people saw Brittany Maynard’s final days battling terminal brain cancer in a video requesting the right to die …

“It was not Maynard or her family who widely shared the video that attracted national attention to the issue of aid-in-dying legislation. Maynard reached out to Compassion & Choices, said Toni Broaddus, California campaign director for the organization. The nonprofit … promoted Maynard’s video, organized primetime interviews, perpetuated a national conversation and continued to share her story after her death.

“Compassion & Choices and other such organizations have taken advantage of the latest digital technologies to bolster the conversation about the right to die.

“‘It’s clear that social media is the reason this issue has gained so much momentum so quickly because it is now possible for a story like Brittany’s to go global in just a matter of hours,’ Broaddus said.”

Bill Monning, Toni Broaddus, Dan Diaz, Lois Wolk

After analyzing more than 25,000 tweets from April and May 2015 from nonprofits, journalists and individuals with a large following, the Peninsula Press concluded the tweets from established organizations generated the highest amount of conversation about the option of medical aid in dying.

The global recognition of Brittany’s story garnered the attention of California Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning and Senate Majority Whip Lois Wolk, who subsequently sponsored the End of Life Option Act (SB 128).

“Senators Bill Monning and Lois Wolk, SB 128’s sponsors, approached Compassion & Choices regarding the bill shortly after Maynard’s death in November of last year. The senators officially introduced the bill in January 2015.

“ … it marked the first time that legislators reached out to the nonprofit and not the other way around. Compassion & Choices was not planning to go to the Legislature during 2015, Broaddus said. The nonprofit, however, was ready to seize the opportunity the senators presented them.”

The story notes the national attention on Brittany’s story undoubtedly played a significant role in prompting the California Medical Association (CMA) to drop their long-standing opposition to medical aid in dying, a key moment in the successful campaign to persuade the legislature to pass the bill.

“One of the key shifts in the legislation’s likelihood for success came after the California Medical Association (CMA), a historic opponent to aid-in-dying legislation stated on May 20, that it was neutral on the passage of the legislation.”

Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to receive the revised version of End of Life Option (ABX2-15) by the end of this week. Compassion & Choices continues to utilize social media and other technology to educate and connect with supporters, urging them to tell Gov. Brown to sign the bill into law.

You can read the full Peninsula Press report here.