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

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Compassion & Choices Celebrates Day of Gratitude in Honor of Brittany Maynard’s Birthday

November 19, 2015, is our first ever Day of Gratitude, in honor of Brittany Maynard’s birthday. Because Brittany shared her story and touched the lives of millions of people, more than half of the states and the District of Columbia introduced aid in dying legislation in 2015.

This is an unprecedented amount of support and we are so grateful to Brittany and the more than 200 legislators who have joined in this movement. Help us thank them for their hard work in bringing access to a peaceful death to more Americans.

Click here to share our Day of Gratitude Facebook post on your timeline!


Brittany touched the lives of millions of Americans by talking publicly about her illness, her desire to have a gentle passing, and her family’s eventual move to Oregon, where aid in dying is authorized. In doing so, she inspired millions to speak out in support of the rights of the terminally ill, including legislators across the nation.  

britt and dog-001As a result, our movement recently celebrated a major victory in California, Brittany’s home state. Thanks to Brittany and many other dedicated advocates, terminally ill Californians no longer have to live in fear of suffering through their final days with no option of relief.

In honor of Brittany’s enormous contribution to the movement, please help us thank lawmakers across the nation for sponsoring legislation expanding end-of-life options in their states.

Click this link to share our Day of Gratitude post with your friends!

Massachusetts Debates Medical Aid in Dying

KulbakoLR-7021“Each of us should have the option of deciding how our final days will be.”- Dan Diaz

Just a few weeks after the anniversary of Brittany Maynard’s first video, Dan Diaz testified at a public hearing  before the Joint Public Health Committee in Massachusetts in support of a death-with-dignity law. Dan drew on the difficulties he and Brittany faced after her terminal diagnosis to make a powerful, compelling argument in favor of expanding end-of-life choices. As medical aid-in-dying laws move forward in more than 26 states.  Compassion & Choices sees Massachusetts as one of our best chances to pass a death-with-dignity law in 2016.

H1991 ‘An Act affirming a terminally ill patient’s right to compassionate aid in dying’  would allow mentally competent terminally ill adults diagnosed with six months or less to live to end their lives peacefully, surrounded by their loved-ones. Death-with-dignity supporters from across the state, and across the country, showed up to support the bill.

H1991 was introduced again this year by State Rep. Louis Kafka, who became a champion of the legislation after being inspired by a terminally-ill constituent named Al Lipkin. Rep. Kafka and three of the bill co-sponsors; Reps. Lori Ehrlich, Timothy Madden and Cory Atkins  testified in favor of the bill at the hearing.


The two State House hearing rooms were packed to the brim for this important hearing. We had an impressive turnout, about 200 supporters with a 75-25 ratio of DWD supporters to opponents. The recent victory in California seemed to bring the opposition out in larger numbers, which we expected. We heard supportive testimony from legislators, medical doctors, nurses, social workers, hospice workers, faith leaders, supporters with personal stories and those who have seen their loved ones die painful deaths. Compassion & Choices came to the hearing prepared with a strong network of grassroots supporters, volunteers, and facts.

Opponents came armed with misleading talking points; one opponent’s testimony even cited the movie The Martian in order to make an argument against death with dignity. We’re confident that these scare tactics won’t work in the end, and we need to continue truth-telling so legislators understand that death with dignity is about providing a widely recognized option to terminally ill, mentally competent adults, and not anything else.   

C&C Holds Federal Policy Briefing on Capitol Hill

nov featureCompassion & Choices held a packed briefing on Capitol Hill October 29, where we introduced our new federal policy agenda and discussed recent state-level work.  Chief Program Officer Kim Callinan served as moderator and presented C&C’s agenda, which lays out a roadmap for achieving patient-centered, family-oriented care that honors personal choices. It offers specific recommendations to policymakers, such as establishing payment and training for palliative care consultations, ending reimbursement for unwanted medical treatment, and requiring electronic medical records to include advance directive information.

Other speakers at the briefing included Dan Diaz, Brittany Maynard’s husband, who has testified in favor of aid-in-dying laws in California, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts since Brittany passed using Oregon’s Death With Dignity law last year. Compassion & Choices California Political Director Charmaine Manansala outlined the provisions in California’s new aid-in-dying law, modeled on 17 years of success in Oregon. Dr. David Grube, one of C&C’s medical directors, shared his experience as a family physician working in Oregon during the implementation of Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act. And board member Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera, who worked tirelessly in campaigning for the End of Life Option Act in his home state of California, discussed his outreach efforts within the medical and faith communities. More

Supporter Spotlight: Dr. Peter Rasmussen, 1945 – 2015

 Danielle Peterson / StatesmanJournal.com
photo: Danielle Peterson / StatesmanJournal.com

Dr. Peter Rasmussen, a retired oncologist and pioneer of the death-with-dignity movement, died at his home in Salem, Oregon, on November 3, 2015, aided by the law he was instrumental in passing.

Rasmussen worked for three decades helping people with cancer as both physician and advocate, and served on the advisory board for Compassion & Choices Oregon. He received international attention in the 1990s by speaking out in support of allowing terminal patients to end their lives on their terms, instead of persisting through the miseries of their illness, at a time when few others were willing to step forward. “Who is it who makes life-and-death decisions?” Rasmussen said. “Is it the doctor? No. Is it the government? No. It should be the patient who makes those very important personal decisions.” More

New York Campaign Takes Off

CorrineCompassion & Choices has long had a robust presence in New York. But in the year since launching our campaign to authorize aid in dying in the state, we’ve made explosive progress.

Corinne A. Carey, most recently assistant legislative director for the New York Civil Liberties Union, was hired as C&C’s New York campaign director. She is responsible for leading the organization’s advocacy campaign for death-with-dignity legislation in the state.

Her hiring coincides with unprecedented, bipartisan progress on death with dignity in the capital: State Senators Diane Savino (D, IDC) and Brad Hoylman (D) introduced the New York End of Life Options Act in the legislature. The bill is matched in the legislature’s other chamber by one sponsored by Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D). Carey has been working closely with Senators Savino and Hoylman to build strong support for their bill, knowing that the Senate is key to any legislation’s passage in New York. More