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

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California doctor Robert Olvera wants to give others the option his daughter was denied

Dr. Robert Olvera, who lost his daughter Emily Rose to leukemia in April of this year, wrote this touching op-ed stating his support for a death-with-dignity law in California. His experience with his daughters illness brought him to the realization that every terminally ill individual must have access to a gentle death on his or her terms and now he’s speaking out to make this a reality.

An excerpt from his piece in the Orange County register is below. Follow the link to read the full text.

Emily Rose died in our home in Santa Ana, with hospice care after a 17-year struggle with leukemia.

But not in a way she wanted.

My 25-year-old daughter should have had the option to request a prescription for life-ending medication to prevent the four-month agony that ended on April 26, 2014.

Why do terminally ill Californians like Emily Rose have to suffer needlessly from relentless pain at the end of life? Why do patients have to endure medical interventions that often produce more pain than relief? MORE…

Post-Brittany Maynard Poll: Most U.S. Doctors Now Support Aid in Dying

By Sean Crowley

For the first time, most American physicians believe by a 23 percent margin (54% vs. 31%) that patients with an “incurable and terminal” disease should have the option to choose death with dignity, also known as the medical practice of aid in dying.

That is the conclusion of an online survey conducted by Medscape of 17,000 U.S. doctors representing 28 medical specialties.

The previous Medscape survey on this issue in 2010 showed physicians support medical aid in dying by a five percent margin (46% vs. 41%).

“It represents a remarkable shift,” said Arthur Caplan, founding head of the division of bioethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, in an interview with NBC News. “If physician opposition continues to weaken, it is likely that despite fierce resistance from some religious groups and some in the disability community, more states will follow Oregon, Washington and Vermont, and legalize.”

The exact question wording in both the 2014 and 2010 surveys asking physicians if they support or oppose aid in dying, respectively, are below:

“I believe terminal illnesses such as metastatic cancers or degenerative neurological diseases rob a human of his/her dignity. Provided there is no shred of doubt that the disease is incurable and terminal, I would support a patient’s decision to end their life, and I would also wish the same option was available in my case should the need arise.”

“Physicians are healers. We are not instruments of death. This is wrong.”

Medscape conducted the 2014 poll between Sept. 18 and Nov. 12, so it received a significant part of the responses after the Oct. 6 launch of Brittany Maynard’s joint campaign with Compassion & Choices to authorize aid in dying in states nationwide.

In addition to death-with-dignity laws enacted in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, courts in Montana and New Mexico have authorized aid in dying.

2014 has been a remarkable year

Hello, friends–

2014 has been a remarkable year — a time of seismic shift in our movement’s history. 2014 was a real turning point in our movement. It is when the momentum built, and the tide turned. And the opportunity is now.

Inspired by the strength of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman who fought to her last breath for expanded availability of death with dignity, our movement is bigger, stronger and more visible than ever before.

Your support gives us the strength to make dramatic change, in 2015 and beyond.  Brittany showed us that change starts with the actions of one person. Help us honor Brittany’s courage and ensure that others will know and have access to all end-of-life options.

Give a year-end gift today and your gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by a generous anonymous donor — so your support will have twice the impact. More

New Jersey Lawmakers Moving Quickly on Death with Dignity Option

Key Senate Committee Passes Aid in Dying Measure

December 15, 2014 (Trenton, NJ) – A bill to authorize the medical option of aid in dying in New Jersey passed another hurdle today.  One week after an initial hearing on the legislation, the New Jersey Senate Heath, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee voted to release the bill without recommendation. The legislation can now be brought to the floor for a full Senate vote.

Today’s vote in favor of New Jerseyans’ rights to choose aid in dying comes on the heels of the passage of the bill in the full Assembly last month.

State Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney has joined Senator Nicholas P. Scutari as a prime sponsor of the legislation.

“The New Jersey legislature moved one step closer to honoring the will of the people and passing Death with Dignity legislation,” said Barbara Lee Coombs, President of Compassion & Choices. “We thank these lawmakers for moving deliberately to empower their constituents, and for their dedication to ensuring care and peace for people close to the end of life.” More

Brittany Maynard Named One of PEOPLE’s 25 Most Intriguing People

Magazine Honors Death-With-Dignity “Crusader”

(Portland, OR – Dec. 12, 2014) Today’s issue of PEOPLE Magazine recognizes Brittany Maynard as one of the 25 most intriguing people of 2014 for her role as “The Crusader” in the death-with-dignity movement, in partnership with Compassion & Choices.

American adults now believe by a record 5-to-1 margin (74% support vs. 14% oppose) that terminally ill adults – in great pain and with no chance for recovery – have the right to choose to end their own life, according to a HealthDay/Harris Poll released last week.

In addition, since the Oct. 6 launch of Brittany’s joint campaign with Compassion & Choices, 20 newspapers in 11 states have endorsed death with dignity, also known as the medical practice of aid in dying.

“Brittany Maynard deserves this PEOPLE Magazine honor because she taught policymakers and millions of other people why terminally ill adults need the choice to die peacefully if their suffering becomes unbearable. Now we must motivate the legions of people Brittany inspired to fulfill her mission to authorize aid in dying in every state,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, a former ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant who coauthored the Oregon death-with-dignity law Brittany utilized.

In the PEOPLE story entitled, “The Crusader BRITTANY MAYNARD,” the magazine reports:

“In heartbreaking videos and exclusive interviews with PEOPLE, the terminally ill 29-year-old passionately defended her decision to end her life under Oregon’s death-with-dignity law. She did just that on Nov. 1 in the presence of her husband and family, but not before showing just what it means to live life to its fullest.”

“I feel fortunate to go surrounded by love,” Brittany told PEOPLE before she died.

On Nov. 13, 12 days after Brittany’s death, the New Jersey Assembly passed an aid-in-dying bill.

On Nov. 19 – what would have been Brittany Maynard’s 30th birthday – Compassion & Choices launched a national initiative for expanded access to death with dignity with a “call to action” video narrated by Brittany on Oct. 13-14.

“I hope for the sake of other American citizens all these people that I’m speaking to that I’ve never met, that I’ll never meet, that this choice be extended to you … That we mobilize, that we vocalize, that we start to talk about it,” said Brittany in the video. The entire video is posted at: www.TheBrittanyFund.org.

In Brittany’s honor, lawmakers have pledged to introduce bills to authorize death with dignity in 14 states: California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Currently, five states authorize aid in dying: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.

About Compassion & Choices:

Compassion & Choices is the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life. Leading the end-of-life choice movement for more than 30 years, we support, educate and advocate. More information is available at: www.compassionandchoices.org.