End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

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Compassion & Choices Needs You for Our New Volunteer Engagement Program

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

“How We Die” Author Praised for Spurring National Death-with-Dignity Discussion

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.

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Death With Dignity a Winning Campaign Issue in Connecticut

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

Atty. Gen.’s home town newspaper criticizes Mancini prosecution, urges legislature to change end-of-life law

Pa. Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane’s home town newspaper, The [Scranton] Times-Tribune, and its sister paper, The [Towanda] Daily Review, editorialized today that the state legislature should revisit the state’s end-of-life law as a result of Kane’s unjust prosecution of Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini for aiding suicide in the death of her terminally ill, 93-year-old father Joe Yourshaw.

The editorial must be a bitter pill for Kane to swallow since it criticized her for bringing the case and her statement about why she would not appeal a judge’s dismissal of the case:

“Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane attempted to cling to a rationale for her office’s wayward criminal prosecution of Barbara Mancini for alleged complicity in the supposed attempted suicide of her terminally ill father …

According to Ms. Kane, in a statement announcing the decision not to seek an appeal of the dismissal, Judge Russell had deemed inadmissible, as a matter of procedure, an incriminating statement by Mrs. Mancini that she had handed the drug to her father to fulfill his wish to die. More

Compassion & Choices Praises Decision Not to Appeal Dismissal of Unjust “Assisted Suicide” Case

PA AG Urged Never to Prosecute Family Members Who Care for Dying Parents

(Harrisburg, Pa. – Feb. 24, 2014) Compassion & Choices praised today’s decision by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane not to appeal the dismissal of a felony “assisted suicide” charge against Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini. Compassion & Choices and Pain Treatment Topics filed an amicus brief in support of the defense’s motion to dismiss the case.

Mancini faced up to 10 years in prison if she was convicted for allegedly handing her dying 93-year-old father, Joe Yourshaw, his prescription morphine at his request four days before he died.

“This abuse of power caused extraordinary emotional and financial hardship for the Mancini family, violated Joe Yourshaw’s desire for a peaceful death and wasted taxpayer resources on an unsubstantiated case,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, an attorney who was an ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant for 25 years. “Attorney General Kane’s decision to accept this dismissal should serve as an important lesson to prosecutors nationwide: Government officials should not interfere in families’ private medical decisions.” More