By Barbara Coombs Lee, PA, FNP, JD, President Compassion & Choices
Marlise Munoz is dead. She died Nov. 26, probably of a pulmonary embolus, when she was 14 weeks pregnant. But John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas refuses to turn off the machines and let the family claim the body of their beloved.
This family is grieving a tragic loss. Their grief is all the more devastating because the firm wishes of their loved one – the woman paramedic, the daughter and wife who knew she never wanted to be maintained in an unconscious state – mean nothing. Texas law says life support may not be withdrawn from a pregnant patient and the hospital chooses to characterize Munoz’s dead body as a patient on life support.
Medical ethicists across the nation call it bad law and erroneous interpretation, but that doesn’t change this outrageous situation. More
What a great way to start the new year!
Thanks to you and hundreds of other generous supporters, we met our challenge! A generous group of your fellow donors said if we raised $50,000 in online contributions last month, they’d match it. So we start 2014 with an added $100,000 to push for compassionate end-of-life care nationwide.
We’ll use every penny to seize the opportunities and face the challenges ahead. I know we can achieve great things in 2014, but every victory will be hard-fought. These financial resources will strengthen our efforts to end unwanted medical treatment … expand access to aid in dying in more states … and defend end-of-life care in the courts.
Your support helps us do all this and more.
Thank you again for your commitment to Compassion & Choices. Together, we will bring dramatic changes to end-of-life care in America.
It was a wake-up call for Compassion & Choices Arizona. In January 2013, State Senator Linda Lopez introduced strong right-to-know legislation that would require doctors and nurse practitioners to explain end-of-life and palliative care options to their terminally ill patients. Her bill never made it out of committee. But even if it had, according to Denny Flaherty of C&C Arizona, his group couldn’t have mobilized support for it fast enough to make a difference. “It forced us to take a look in the mirror,” he says.
The group needed a statewide rapid-response network. But at the time, there were only a handful of active C&C members in Arizona. So Flaherty designed a network that could be managed and activated singlehandedly. Fortunately, careers of military service and management consulting made Flaherty a mission-driven strategist with a gift for efficiency, and he developed a winning campaign strategy.
Flaherty started by sorting through all the lists of C&C Arizona donors, volunteers and supporters, and found 1,378 people to contact. He and Arizona chapter president Freda Anderson then designed (and tested and revised) an online survey to determine three things: Do you support aid in dying? Are you a registered voter in Arizona? Are you willing to directly contact your elected representatives and ask them to support legislation? More
“When you grow up in India, people just die. They die! It’s okay to die. Here, it seems like such a taboo subject,” says Albuquerque volunteer Revathi A-Davidson. Revathi moved to the United States in 1969 and worked in healthcare for 34 years before taking on an active role with Compassion & Choices New Mexico last January. “I feel very strongly about this issue having seen the ICU, having seen adult medical patients – who are mostly elderly, you know, with multi-system involvement – where I wish families could let go and that patients knew more.”
Now as co-chair of the Compassion & Choices New Mexico executive council, Revathi facilitates local meetings, responds to questions from the media, writes as many articles as she can and does even more reading: “I want to make sure I’m fully conversant with the issue, and really on top of the information and literature and all the many aspects of it. One thing I would like to help people understand is that Compassion & Choices is not just about aid in dying. It’s about end-of-life consultation and issues, hospice, palliative care, advance directives, and also aid in dying as one way they can exercise choice. It’s an entire gamut of services; aid in dying is one more that we would like to bring to New Mexico.” More