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

Death with Dignity

Libertarian, Washington Post syndicated columnist George Will Endorses Death With Dignity!

By Sean Crowley

g willThe [Maryville, TN] Daily Times pre-empted The Washington Post by publishing a column today by WP syndicated columnist George Will, a self-described libertarian, endorsing death with dignity, also known as medical aid in dying, for terminally ill adults who want to the option to peacefully end unbearable suffering. Yesterday, Will’s research assistant confirmed to Compassion & Choices that this column will be published in Sunday’s The Washington Post.

To put this endorsement in perspective, The Wall Street Journal called Will “perhaps the most powerful journalist in America.”

Will’s column quotes death-with-dignity advocates Brittany Maynard (“I’m not killing myself. Cancer is killing me.”), who died last Nov. 1, and Jennifer Glass (“I’m doing everything I can to extend my life. No one should have the right to prolong my death.”), who died on Aug. 11.

Doctors_0358It also extensively quotes Dr. Lynette Cederquist, the physician plaintiff in a suit filed by Compassion & Choices asserting an 1874 California law prohibiting assisted suicide does not apply to physicians who offer medical aid in dying. She is a board certified physician in internal medicine, hospice and palliative medicine, and a clinical professor of medicine from La Jolla, California.

Physician-assisted dying has been done surreptitiously “as long as we have been practicing medicine,” Cederquist tells Will.

The column is timely because the California legislature is considering whether to pass the End of Life Option Act that would authorize medical aid in dying in the Golden State during its special session on healthcare that ends on September 11. New York is among the 23 others states that are considering or have introduced death-with-dignity legislation this year, along with the District of Columbia.

Will’s column concludes:

britt and dog-001“There is nobility in suffering bravely borne, but also in affirming at the end the distinctive human dignity of autonomous choice. Brittany Maynard, who chose to be with loved ones when she self-administered her lethal medications, was asleep in five minutes and soon dead.”

It will be interesting to see if Will discusses his column endorsing death with dignity on Fox News Sunday at 2pm ET.

You can read the full column by clicking here.

California Aid-in-Dying Bill Still Under Consideration

Supporters Feel Optimistic about Bill Despite Hearing Postponement


(Sacramento, CA – July 7, 2015) The authors of a bill that would allow terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication to shorten their dying process decided not to present it, SB 128, before the Assembly Health Committee to give Assemblymembers more time to consider the bill.

“SB 128 is still alive and well, even though we weren’t ready for it to be heard before the Assembly Health Committee,” said Compassion & Choices California Campaign Director Toni Broaddus. “Seven out of every ten California voters want to see this bill become law, so we will not stop until we make that happen.”

A bipartisan poll last month showed 69 percent of California voters, including 70 percent of Latinos and 60 percent of Catholics, support SB 128, also known as the End of Life Option Act. The bill is authored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning, Senate Majority Whip Lois Wolk and Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman.

The End of Life Option Act was inspired by the public advocacy of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old Californian with terminal brain cancer. She had to move to Oregon last year to utilize its death-with-dignity law to end her unbearable suffering so she could die peacefully.

“This issue is urgent for dying Californians like Jennifer Glass, Christy O’Donnell, Michael Saum and hundreds of others who are suffering unbearably at the end of their lives,” added Broaddus.  “We are redoubling our commitment to passing the End of Life Option Act for all other Californians who want and need the option of medical aid in dying.”

The End of Life Option Act was closely modeled after the death-with-dignity law in Oregon, which has worked well for 17 years, without a single documented case of abuse or coercion. Four other states authorize the option of medical aid in dying: Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.

“This battle is far from over,” added Broaddus. “We owe it to Brittany Maynard’s family and terminally ill Californians to pursue every available path to give them relief from unbearable suffering.”

Olmos Joins Prominent Latino Voices Endorsing California Death-With-Dignity Bill

By Maureen Kennedy

Actor/Director Edward James Olmos has added his voice to the community of Latino supporters of California’s End of Life Option Act (SB 128). Best known for his Academy Award-nominated performance as renowned educator Jaime Escalante in the 1988 film Stand and Deliver, Olmos is a veteran social activist. He founded Latino Public Broadcasting, served as an international ambassador for UNICEF and helped clean up the streets of Los Angeles after the Rodney King riots.

In a letter sent July 1, Olmos urged all Assembly members to support SB 128. Olmos’ letter is particularly timely because six Latino Legislative Caucus members serve on the 19-member Assembly Health Committee that is scheduled to vote on the bill on July 7. Olmos’ letter concludes:

“Americans are free to choose how they live—and when the time comes, how they die. All Americans should be able to make this private, personal decision—in consultation with their doctor and family—free from government interference. 

We need your vote on SB 128. Can I count on you to support this legislation?”

Olmos joins other prominent Latino activists who support the End of Life Option Act, including legendary labor leader Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farm Workers with César Chávez, and actor Mauricio Ochmann from the popular Telemundo telenovela “El Señor de los Cielos.”

Nearly seven in ten California voters (69%), including 70 percent of Latinos and 60 percent of Catholics, support SB 128, according to a bipartisan poll conducted June 16-21 by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research and Probolsky Research.

You can read entire text of Olmos’ letter by clicking here.

You can read full results from the bipartisan poll by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research and Probolsky Research by clicking here.

Calif.-Pac. United Methodist Church Endorses Aid-in-Dying Bill

Assembly Health Committee Scheduled to Vote on Legislation on Tuesday

(Los Angeles, CA – July 2, 2015) Compassion & Choices praised the California-Pacific Conference of The United Methodist Church today for unanimously passing a resolution to support the End of Life Option Act (SB 128). The endorsement is timely because the California Assembly Health Committee is scheduled to vote on the bill this Tues., July 7.

SB 128 would allow mentally competent, terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication that they could take to die painlessly and peacefully if their suffering becomes unbearable.

The California-Pacific Conference is a regional body of The United Methodist Church. The group includes 80,000 members from nearly 360 local churches throughout Southern California, parts of Central California, Hawaii, the Pacific Islands, Guam and Saipan.

“Endorsements by respected Christian organizations are key to the passage of the End of Life Option Act,” said Toni Broaddus, California Campaign Director. “Everyone should have the option, together with our families, our faith leaders and our doctors, to make the end-of-life decisions that are right for us in the final stages of a terminal illness.” More

Legislation that Could End Unwanted Medical Treatment


081-001The following is an excerpt from an op-ed written by Compassion & Choices Daniel R Wilson, published on June 24th, 2015 on thehealthcareblog.org:

By Daniel R Wilson

Roughly 25 million Americans have been subjected to unwanted medical treatment at some point in their lives, and that means we have a healthcare system that is not listening to patients. We all say we believe in patient-centered health care, and now we have a bill in the U.S. Congress that would put our money where our mouths are. Literally.

Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced legislation this month that would make sure Medicare recipients and their doctors know how much or how little treatment those patients would want as they approach the end of life. The Care Planning Act of 2015 would specifically create a Medicare benefit for people facing grave illness to work with their doctor to define, articulate and document their personal goals for treatment. Doctors will be rewarded with reimbursement for helping patients make very important end-of-life decisions when there is time and space to do so thoughtfully, before a crisis and when the patient can advocate for herself.

Given my organization’s commitment to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life, we believe this legislation sets the right goals and is smart about how it achieves them. More…