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Legal Resources

If you are an attorney representing a patient or family dealing with end-of-life issues or liberties—whether your client isn’t getting the treatment they need, is being forced to undergo unwanted medical treatment or is having their advanced directive ignored—we’re here to help.

Contact Compassion & Choices by clicking on this link to submit a legal request and we’ll put you in touch with someone who can provide assistance.

In the Courts

Compassion & Choices’ innovative legal advocacy is one strategy used to achieve better medical care and access to a full range of end-of-life options. Our impact litigation is widely acknowledged to have brought much-needed attention to end-of-life care and to have established important principles in this arena, including a federal constitutional right to aggressive pain management.

Active Cases:

Zubik v. Burwell

Compassion & Choices weighed in on a U.S. Supreme Court case that could impair end-of-life care for millions of Americans. On Feb. 17, 2016, we filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Zubik v. Burwell in which the plaintiffs in multiple consolidated lawsuits claim the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage insurance requirement violates their religious freedom. MORE

California: Ahn v. Hestrin

A California Superior Court accepted a friend-of-the court brief filed by Compassion & Choices urging the court to reject a request for a preliminary injunction to suspend the state’s new medical aid-in-dying law. MORE

Massachusetts: Kligler

This case, brought by Compassion & Choices on behalf of two Massachusetts physicians, one of whom has a terminal illness, asserts that existing state law allows physicians to offer terminally ill, mentally capable adults the option of medical aid in dying. MORE

Federal: Oregon Prescription Drug Monitoring Program v. DEA

Compassion & Choices and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are jointly representing the ACLU of Oregon, four patients, and a doctor in a landmark case seeking to protect private prescription records from warrantless searches by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). MORE

Federal: Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, Inc., et al v. William Hoser, et al

Plaintiffs in this case, led by the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, have filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court of Vermont seeking to undermine Vermont’s Patient Choice and Control at End of Life Act. The lawsuit challenges Vermont’s requirement that patients must be informed of all their available healthcare options after they receive a terminal diagnosis. MORE

Past Cases:

Morris v. New Mexico

This case, brought by Compassion & Choices and the ACLU of New Mexico, asks the court to rule that the state’s criminal prohibition of “assisting suicide” does not reach the conduct of a physician providing aid in dying. If the court holds that the statute does not reach aid in dying, the practice will be authorized in the state and conducted subject to professional practice standards, like other medical practices. This is a test case that could have impact in a number of other jurisdictions. A district court recognized that aid in dying is a “fundamental right” under the New Mexico Constitution. An appeals court overruled that decision. The case is awaiting a decision from the New Mexico Supreme Court. MORE

O’Donnell v. Harris

This case, brought by Compassion & Choices on behalf of three Californians with terminal or advanced diseases and a physician, sought to clarify whether the California Constitution and existing state law allow the medical practice of aid in dying. Aid in dying gives mentally competent, terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take in their final days to end their dying process painlessly and peacefully, ending unbearable pain and suffering. The California Supreme Court declined to review the case’s dismissal in February of 2016. MORE

Pennsylvania v. Mancini

Compassion & Choices asserted that the assisted-suicide charge filed against Barbara Mancini in the death of her dying father, Joe Yourshaw, was without foundation because dying patients have a constitutional right to as much medicine as they need to relieve their pain even if it advances the time of death. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized this right in two landmark cases, Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill, both brought by Compassion & Choices’ predecessor organization, Compassion in Dying. The case against Barbara Mancini was dismissed February 11, 2014. MORE

Baxter et al v. Montana

Compassion & Choices was a co-counsel for this case, in which the Montana Supreme Court upheld the right to legal aid in dying for Montanans. It was the third state to authorize medical aid in dying. MORE

Gonzales v. Oregon

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of end-of-life choice. In a 6-to-3 decision, the court ruled the Attorney General’s attempt to intervene in affairs of the state’s aid-in-dying law exceeded his authority. Compassion & Choices represented patients wanting to preserve the Oregon law. MORE

Washington v. Glucksberg & Vacco v. Quill

These Compassion & Choices-sponsored cases established for dying patients seeking a constitutional right to pain-relieving medication even it results in death. MORE

 

If you’d like to get in touch with a member of our Legal Advocacy department, please click here.