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

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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…


Latino Labor Leader Dolores Huerta Endorses Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill

Civil Rights Activist Urges Latino Legislators to Vote for Bill 

(Sacramento, CA – June 25, 2015) Latino labor leader and civil right activist Dolores Huerta today publicly endorsed the End of Life Option Act (SB 128) and encouraged Latino legislators to vote for it. Her endorsement is critical because she is a leader in the labor, civil rights, and Latino communities.  Several Latino legislators serve on the Assembly Health Committee, which is scheduled to vote on the bill July 7th.

“We are honored to have the support of Dolores Huerta because her endorsement carries great weight across California and especially in the Latino community,” said Toni Broaddus, California Campaign Director for Compassion & Choices. “We hope her leadership will help convince legislators who are on the fence about the importance of the legislation prior to the vote in the Assembly Health Committee.”

Huerta’s endorsement follows Tuesday’s release of a bipartisan poll conducted by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research andProbolsky Research showing 70 percent of Latino voters and 60 percent of Catholic voters support the End of Life Option Act.

Huerta co-founded the United Farm Workers with César Chávez. She now joins other prominent Latinos who have publicly endorsed the End of Life Option Act. They include actor/director and activist Edward James Olmos and star Mauricio Ochmann from the popular Telemundo telenovela “El Señor de los Cielos.”

“I came to Sacramento to urge members of the Assembly to support SB 128, the End of Life Option Act,” said Huerta. “This bill will affirm a fundamental right for terminally ill and mentally competent patients to choose how their final days are lived. This is a basic civil rights issue offering a compassionate and dignified end-of-life choice that should be left between a patient and doctor.”

Sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning and Senate Majority Whip Lois Wolk, SB 128 was inspired by California death-with-dignity advocate Brittany Maynard. The bill is 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.

“We are honored that Dolores Huerta, civil rights leader, champion for working families, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is working in support of SB 128, the End of Life Option Act,” said Senator Monning. “As Dolores has stated, this is a fundamental human rights issue and a choice that should be afforded to every qualified, terminally ill patient in California.”

Four other states authorize the option of medical aid in dying: Washington, Montana, Vermont, and New Mexico. Legislators have introduced medical aid-in-dying bills in the District of Columbia and at least 23 other states besides California.

The Economist Endorses Aid in Dying, Publishes Cover Story and Pol

By Sean Crowley

The Economist today published a 4,600+ word cover story about medical aid in dying, “Campaigns to let doctors help the suffering and terminally ill to die are gathering momentum across the West,” and an Ipsos MORI poll the magazine commissioned of people in the United States and 14 other countries.

The article quoted Dan Diaz (widower of death-with-dignity advocate Brittany Maynard) and Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, who coauthored the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.

The story noted:

“The popular desire for assisted dying is beyond question …

 “In Oregon, palliative care also improved after the Death with Dignity law came in. A survey of doctors found that having to prepare for conversations about assisted dying had nudged the majority to learn more about terminal patients’ other options …

“Doctor-assisted dying seems not to weaken public faith in the medical profession: surveys show that doctors are trusted as much where it is allowed as where it is not.”

The Economist also published an editorial endorsing the option of medical aid in dying, “Doctors should be allowed to help the suffering and terminally ill to die when they choose.”

The editorial concluded:

“… draft bills, ballot initiatives and court cases are progressing in 20 more states and several other countries (see article) …

“In a secular society, it is odd to buttress the sanctity of life in the abstract by subjecting a lot of particular lives to unbearable pain, misery and suffering. And evidence from places that have allowed assisted dying suggests that there is no slippery slope towards widespread euthanasia …

“How, then, should assisted dying work? For many the model is Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.”

You can read The Economist cover story by clicking here.

You can read The Economist editorial by clicking here.

You can read The Economist poll by clicking here:

16 California Newspapers Endorse Medical Aid-in-Dying Legislation

By Katie Wingo

Since Brittany Maynard’s story broke last October, 16 California newspapers have written 26 editorials endorsing medical aid-in-dying legislation or, more specifically, California’s own End of Life Option Act (SB 128). The major newspapers that have endorsed SB 128 include the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, San Jose Mercury News, and Hoy a leading Spanish-language newspaper in Los Angeles.

Given the millions of online and offline readers of these 16 newspapers, the 26 editorials undoubtedly played a key role in the state Senate’s passage of SB 128 on June 4, and they should continue to influence legislators as the bill moves through the Assembly. The editorial headlines alone are strongly supportive:

“End of Life Option Act should be law of the land,” (Daily Democrat, Jan. 23, 2015)

“California needs a right-to-die law,” (Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2015)

“Brittany Maynard proved need for California Death with Dignity law,” (San Jose Mercury News, Nov. 17, 2014)

“Give the dying the right to pick how and when to die,” (The Sacramento Bee, Oct. 25, 2014)

The editorials are equally unambiguous in their support:

“We strongly urge the [Assembly Health] committee to approve the bill and send it on to the Assembly.” (Los Angeles Times, June 23, 2015)

“Legislators ought to approve the bill, so caring spouses such as Bill Bentinck don’t have to fear jail, and sick people like Brittany Maynard need not leave their homes and travel to Oregon to end their pain.” (The Fresno Bee, Jan. 21, 2015)

“We hope that common sense prevails so our legislators grant this option to people with terminal illnesses.” (Hoy, June 19, 2015)

“Californians overwhelmingly support this concept. Oregon voters approved it in a ballot measure 21 years ago, and zero problems have surfaced; it is seldom used, but it offers peace of mind to many.” (San Jose Mercury News, June 1, 2015)

We’re excited to see such far-reaching support. We are optimistic that the Assembly will continue pushing the End of Life Option Act forward, particularly in light of Compassion & Choices new, bipartisan poll showing that Californians from every demographic group, including a majority of Catholics and Latinos, support the bill.

To read more editorial headlines and excerpts, click here.

To read the summary of the new, bipartisan poll on SB 128, click here.