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

Press Releases

Compassion & Choices Commends Life and Work of Aid-in-Dying Advocate, Former State Rep Ernest “Juggie” Heen

HONOLULU (July 2, 2013)—Compassion & Choices mourns the passing and lauds the work of former Hawaii state representative Ernest “Juggie” Heen, who died June 30 in Honolulu at age 82 after a long bout with cancer.

Juggie was a tireless advocate for end-of-life choice in the 50th state. He was instrumental in helping to launch the Compassion & Choices “Join Juggie” campaign to activate Hawaii’s constellation of laws that empower terminally ill, mentally competent patients to make their own decisions about end-of-life care, treatment for pain and aid in dying. Thanks to his efforts, he had a choice at the end of life—as do the thousands of Hawaii residents who have attended Compassion & Choices meetings and trainings, considered requests for aid in dying, or simply become more aware of their options for a peaceful death. More

Victory in Vermont

Vermont made history in May 2013 when its legislature became the first to authorize access to aid in dying. “Gov. Peter Shumlin and Vermont legislators have shattered a barrier by becoming the first politicians to show the courage to enact a death-with-dignity law,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee about the impactful win. Vermont is now the fourth state to affirmatively allow physician aid in dying and the first in the East. Oregon and Washington both sanctioned the practice through ballot initiatives, while Montana affirmed this option for the terminally ill via a state Supreme Court ruling in Compassion & Choices’ Baxter v. Montana case.

The Vermont bill is also unique in that it starts with rigorous requirements similar to the Oregon and Washington laws, including mandates for waiting periods, second opinions and extensive physician reporting. But after three years it transitions to a model governed by best practice standards, as in Montana. “Professional practice standards guide all of medicine, and it is appropriate for aid in dying to be governed in this manner,” explained Compassion & Choices Legal Affairs Director Kathryn Tucker, who testified before both the Vermont House and Senate in favor of the bill and also served as lead counsel in the Baxter case. More

Vermont Gov. Signs First Death-with-Dignity Law Passed by Legislature in Nation

CONTACT: Sean Crowley
202-550-6524
, [email protected] 

by Compassion & Choices staff

Historic Achievement is Breakthrough in Death-with-Dignity Movement

(Washington, D.C. – May 20, 2013) Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin’s signing into law at 2pm today of the nation’s first death-with-dignity bill passed by a legislature is a “breakthrough” moment, according to the nation’s leading end-of-life choice advocacy group, Compassion & Choices. Vermont also will become the first eastern state and fourth state nationwide where aid in dying clearly is legal and accessible starting immediately.

“This historic achievement is a political breakthrough that will boost support for death-with-dignity bills nationwide,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, an ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant for 25 years who co-authored the nation’s first Death-with-Dignity law in Oregon and was a senior advisor on the successful campaign to pass the Death-with-Dignity law in Washington state, both of which were approved by citizen-passed ballot initiatives and served as models for the Vermont legislation. More

Vermont Becomes First Legislature to Approve Death-with-Dignity Legislation

by Compassion & Choices Staff

CONTACT: Sean Crowley, 202-550-6524
[email protected]

Politics Shift as Lawmakers Embrace Nationwide Support for End-of-Life Choices

(Washington, D.C. – May 13, 2013) The nation’s leading end-of-life choice advocacy group, Compassion & Choices, praised the Vermont legislature for becoming the first legislative body in the nation to approve death-with-dignity legislation. Gov. Peter Shumlin has vowed to sign the bill into law.

“This historic legislative victory proves that the aid-in-dying issue is no longer the third rail of politics. In fact, it’s a winning issue on which Gov. Shumlin campaigned,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, an ER and ICU nurse and physician assistant who co-authored the nation’s first Death-with-Dignity law in Oregon and was a senior advisor for the nation’s second Death-with-Dignity law in Washington state, both approved by ballot initiatives. “We congratulate Patient Choices Vermont for its leadership of this multi-year campaign. Their success shows aid in dying has become a legislative winner.” More

Montel Williams Speaks Out for Death with Dignity in New Issue of Compassion & Choices Magazine

CONTACT: Sean Crowley, 202-550-6524
[email protected]

by Compassion & Choices staff
May 2, 2013

TV Host Calls End-of-Life Choice for Terminally Ill “Personal Decision”

(Washington, D.C.) Emmy Award-winning television host Montel Williams advocates for end-of-life choice, including aid in dying, in the spring issue of Compassion & Choices Magazine. Williams, who revealed in 1999 that he has multiple sclerosis (MS) and is an active healthcare advocate, expressed support for the right of terminally ill people with unbearable suffering to control the time and manner of their death.

Appearing on the cover and in the magazine’s “Voice of Choice” column, Williams states, “I do not believe people should be deciding what level of pain other people should endure, especially knowing they have no chance for recovery. It is a personal decision.” More