Compassion & Choices’ efforts are driving exciting progress in a number of state legislatures this year:
Tremendous activity including a press conference unveiling C&C Connecticut’s portrait project, which featured more than 30 local supporters, helped advance Connecticut’s death-with-dignity bill. It will be heard before the Public Health Committee this month. C&C is continuing its aggressive multimedia and grassroots campaigning tactics to ensure the bill clears committee. And last week State Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield won a special election for a Connecticut State Senate seat with 76 percent of the vote. Holder-Winfield spoke eloquently on the campaign trail about how watching his own mother’s end-of-life suffering led him to support death with dignity. Holder-Winfield’s opponent said he would vote against the legislation. More
Stuart Chalfin started a Compassion & Choices Philadelphia-area group in 2012 because he felt compelled by the grim news articles about how people die in modern America and the impressions gained from visiting assisted-living facilities. “I’m not a very active person politically,” admits Chalfin, but he was able to gather 40 contacts to attend his first meeting. He also reached out to State Senator Daylin Leach, a death-with-dignity backer, and arranged for him to come speak to the Philadelphia group this spring.
It was during one of the group’s meetings that Chalfin proposed the idea of starting a legal defense fund to help the Mancini family with legal expenses. He was appalled by the plight of Barbara Mancini, who until recently was battling an “assisted suicide” charge related to the death of her 93-year-old terminally ill father. “That was a horrorshow, to have to go through that situation when her father was terminal. Their legal bills were over $100,000; she lost her job,” he said. Compassion & Choices presented the Mancini family with $20,000 raised through the fund, which will be an ongoing initiative to help others facing unjust prosecution related to end-of-life issues. “It was so abhorrent to me, what they were doing to these poor people,” he explained, “So that was some satisfaction.” At the press conference where the C&C representatives presented the check, Joe Mancini thanked Stuart directly for his support. More
Marina Shuman with volunteer Susan Woods
Compassion & Choices volunteers across the nation not only outnumber staff nearly ten-fold, they fuel the end-of-life choice movement. The new Volunteer Engagement Program unites this rapidly growing community and streamlines the process of organizing the hundreds of active supporters eager to push C&C’s work forward.
The first step for new volunteers is attending a C&C Connections webinar: an overview of Compassion & Choices, the movement and ways to get involved. Volunteers can then advance to Connections Plus for expanded opportunities. Beyond that, advocates have the option to further specialize by continuing through either the advocacy or end-of-life consultation path. More than 50 new volunteers have already participated, and a February 8 New York Times article featuring President Barbara Coombs Lee resulted in 45 inquiries virtually overnight. More
Connecticut Physician Sherwin Nuland Criticized Futile Medical Treatments for Terminally Ill
(Hartford, Conn. – March 5, 2014) Compassion & Choices praised Dr. Sherwin Nuland, the Yale surgery professor and author of an award-winning book, “How We Die,” for initiating a national dialogue about death with dignity. Nuland died from prostate cancer on Monday at age 83 at his home in Hamden, Connecticut.
“Dr. Nuland was heroic in bringing conversations about dying out of the closet. He openly acknowledged medically assisted dying exists in states like Connecticut where it is considered illegal. Our own fight is to legalize aid in dying and bring a surreptitious practice into the open, where it is safe and accessible to everyone,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, a former ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant who coauthored the nation’s first death-with-dignity law in Oregon.
With all the issues voters consider, there is never just one reason a candidate wins an election. But when someone campaigns – and wins – on end-of-life choice, it’s worth noting. That’s exactly what happened in a special election for the Connecticut State Senate this week. Gary Holder-Winfield, already a member of the State House, spoke eloquently on the campaign trail about how watching his own mother’s end-of-life suffering led him to support a death-with-dignity bill. The bill, sponsored by State Representative Betsy Ritter, would legalize the medical practice of aid in dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults in Connecticut.
“Going through that and watching her suffer changed my perspective,” Holder-Winfield told The New Haven Independent. “The whole time she was in pain. I’d go see her—sometimes she would cry the whole time.” He believes his mother would have wanted the choice to bring a peaceful end to her life.
The candidate Holder-Winfield defeated said he would vote against the legislation. More