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Tag Archive: Aid in Dying

  1. Colorado Medical Aid-in-Dying Law Working Well on 1st Anniversary Since it Took Effect

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    One year after the implementation of the End-of-Life Options Act, which authorizes medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults, data and personal stories compiled by Compassion & Choices show the law is working as intended.

    The law gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully if their end-of-life suffering becomes unbearable. The law took effect on Dec. 16, 2016, after its adoption as the most popular ballot measure in recent state history (65% voted ‘yes’ vs. 35% voted ‘no’). In addition to Colorado, medical aid in dying is authorized in five other states, California, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.

    “Colorado’s first year of implementation has been a success and is working as voters intended,” said Kat West, National Director of Policy and Programs for Compassion & Choices. “All of the large secular healthcare systems have adopted policies supportive of patient end-of-life decision making. The promises made during the ballot campaign have been kept. Over a dozen safeguards are in place without unnecessary regulatory barriers that reduce dying people’s access to the law. The Colorado law’s implementation progress has been on par, if not better in some regards, with medical aid-in-dying laws that took effect in California last year and in Oregon 20 years ago.”

    • We estimate 45-55 terminally ill adults have requested prescriptions for medical aid in dying based on inquiries to Compassion & Choices’ Doc2Doc service (800.247.7421 or [email protected]), our End-of-Life Consultation program and information that supporters and providers have shared. The exact number will be available when the state releases its annual report in the spring of 2018.
    • Nearly 300 Coloradans have accessed Compassion & Choices’ Find Care Tool, where the public can find medical facilities, systems and hospices with policies supportive of patient decision-making around medical aid in dying.
    • 81 healthcare facilities in 30 towns* and 16 hospice locations in 15 towns** statewide, including all of the large secular healthcare systems, including Kaiser, the University system and HealthOne, have adopted official policies supportive of patient end-of-life decision making and are on our online Find Care Tool: compassionandchoices.org/Find-Care.There also is a map of these facilities available at: bit.ly/COEndofLifeOptionsFriendlyFacilities.
    • 10,000 doctors, pharmacists and other people have visited Compassion & Choices’ dedicated bilingual Access Campaign website to learn about more about Colorado law: compassionandchoices.org/Colorado.
    • More than 500 doctors and healthcare professionals have received education and information on our online resource guide for medical providers.
    • Compassion & Choices has educated hundreds of doctors and medical professionals about the law via statewide education webinars and presentations, and via our toll-free Doc2Doc consultation program phone line: 800.247.7421.
    • Compassion & Choices staff and volunteers have provided free education and presentations for communities across the state since implementation. These presentations have empowered Coloradans to take charge of their healthcare and learn the process for accessing the full range of end-of-life options, including medical aid in dying.

    “When we actually got the medication, it was like a weight had been lifted off her shoulders. She was down to 76 pounds, and she put on four pounds which was a big deal. She felt so much more at ease with life in general,” Herb Myers, an Aurora resident, said about his wife, Kathy. Kathy Myers is believed to be the first Coloradan to receive a prescription for medical aid in dying. “The fact is, it [her death] was very gentle.”

    “Studies have demonstrated that having medical aid in dying available provides comfort and peace of mind to dying people so they can live their remaining days to the fullest,” West said. “And the stories of people who have utilized the law, like Kathy Myers, prove that the law is working as intended.”  

    Dr. Cory Carroll, a family physician in Fort Collins, has participated in the law: “Neither patients nor doctors are forced to participate, and the experience from other states that have this kind of law on the books shows it improves physician-patient relationships as well as increases utilization of hospice and palliative care.”

    Compassion & Choices also defended funding for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s annual reporting on the law during the 2017 legislative session, ultimately preserving the budget line. The voters of Colorado made it clear that they value this medical option, and the level of reporting required by the ballot measure when they passed it by a 30-point margin in November 2016.

    Compassion & Choices will continue to provide support and education to the public and medical professionals through its bilingual Access Campaign to ensure that every eligible, terminally ill person who feels that medical aid in dying is an important option has access to the End-of-Life Options Act.

    *81 healthcare facilities are located in the following 30 towns: Aurora (3 facilities), Boulder (21 facilities), Broomfield, Buena Vista, Canon City (2 facilities), Castle Rock, Colorado City, Colorado Springs (4 facilities), Delta (7 facilities), Denver (4 facilities), Englewood (3 facilities), Fort Collins, Fort Morgan, Fruita, Hotchkiss, La Junta, Lafayette (4 facilities), Lakewood, Littleton, Lone Tree (3 facilities), Longmont (3 facilities), Louisville, Loveland, Paonia, Parker, Pueblo (6 facilities), Salida (2 facilities), Steamboat Springs, Superior, and Thornton (2 facilities).

    **16 hospices are located in the following 15 towns: Canon City, Colorado Springs, Craig, Denver (2 hospices), Fowler, La Junta, Northglenn, Pueblo, Pueblo, Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Springs, Trinidad, Walsenburg, and Westminster.

  2. Mass. Medical Society Drops Opposition to Medical Aid in Dying

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    Dr. Roger Kligler, a retired Internist in Falmouth living with stage four metastatic prostate cancer.

    Compassion & Choices praised the Massachusetts Medical Society for dropping its longtime opposition to legislation giving terminally ill patients the option of medical aid in dying to peacefully end unbearable suffering. The society’s House of Delegates voted to adopt a new position of “neutral engagement” on Saturday, one day after the release on Friday of a survey of the society’s members which showed they supported medical aid-in-dying legislation the state legislature is considering by a 2-1 margin.

    “If medical aid-in-dying is legalized, the MMS [Massachusetts Medical Society] will support its members with clinical and legal considerations through education, advocacy and other resources, regardless of whether the member physician chooses to practice medical aid-in-dying,” said Massachusetts Medical Society news release announcing the decision.

    “I am excited about this decision because the legislature greatly respects the medical society’s positions of healthcare issues and its previous opposition to medical aid in dying was a serious roadblock to passing legislation authorizing this end-of-life care option,” said Dr. Roger Kligler, a retired Internist in Falmouth living with stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer who is a plaintiff in a lawsuit filed by Compassion & Choices asserting the Massachusetts constitution and existing state law already authorize medical aid in dying. “I’m extremely grateful for the society’s change of heart.”

    The District of Columbia Council and Colorado voters passed a medical aid-in-dying law in 2016 and the California legislature did so in 2015 after their local American Medical Association chapters dropped their opposition to this end-of-life care option and adopted neutral positions.

    “This decision definitely improves the chances of passing the End of Life Options Act (H.1194/S.1225),” said Marie Manis, Massachusetts campaign manager for Compassion & Choices. “Now our job is to redouble our efforts to urge lawmakers to take action on behalf of their constituents who want the option of medical aid in dying.”

    The Joint Committee on Public Health held a hearing on the End of Life Options Act on Sept. 26 when it heard from more than 25 supporters, including family members of loved ones who died with needless suffering, faith and legislative leaders, hospice and medical professionals, and social workers. The legislative deadline for the committee to take action on the bill is Feb. 7.

    The Massachusetts Medical Society is the 10th American Medical Association chapter that has dropped its opposition to medical aid in dying and adopted a neutral stance on the practice, including nine of them in the last two years. The others are the California Medical Association in 2015, Colorado Medical Society in 2016, Maryland State Medical Society in 2016, Medical Society of the District of Columbia in 2016, Maine Medical Association in 2017, Minnesota Medical Association in 2017, Nevada State Medical Association in 2017, Oregon Medical Association in 1997 and Vermont in 2017.

    “Massachusetts’ ‘neutral engagement’ position is even better than a simply neutral position,” said Rebecca Thoman, M.D., campaign manager for Doctors for Dignity for Compassion & Choices. “It means if Massachusetts enacts a medical aid-in-dying law, the medical society will offer education and guidance to physicians who want to incorporate medical aid in dying into their practices.”

    Six states have explicitly authorized medical aid in dying California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, along with the District of Columbia. Collectively, these seven jurisdictions represent 18 percent of the nation’s population and have 40 years of combined experience of safely using this end-of-life care option.

    Numerous national and state polls show strong support for medical aid in dying among both U.S. physicians and Americans across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum.

  3. Mass. Doctors Support Medical Aid in Dying by 2-1 Margin, Medical Society Survey Shows

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    Massachusetts doctors support giving terminally ill patients the option of medical aid in dying to peacefully end unbearable suffering by a 2-1 margin, according to a survey released today at the Massachusetts Medical Society interim meeting.

    The survey was released before a discussion by the society’s Reference Committee whether to recommend that the House of Delegates vote on Saturday to drop the society’s longtime opposition to medical aid in dying and adopt a stance of ‘engaged neutrality.’

    “Based on our experience in other states, this vote is a very positive sign that the medical society will adopt a position of engaged neutrality that would pave the way for lawmakers to enact the End of Life Options Act (H.1194/S.1225),” said Marie Manis, Massachusetts campaign manager for Compassion & Choices.

    The Colorado Medical Society adopted a neutral position on medical aid in dying in 2016 after its members voted in favor of the option of medical aid in dying, 56% vs. 35%, paving the way for voters to approve the End of Life Options Act by 65% vs. 35% in Nov. 2016. The California legislature enacted the End of Life Option Act into law in 2015 after the California Medical Association dropped its longtime opposition to medical aid in dying and adopted a neutral position.

    “If the medical society adopts a position of engaged neutrality, it’s important because if the state enacts a medical aid-in-dying law, the medical society will provide training to physicians who want to offer this option to their terminally ill patients,” said Rebecca Thoman, M.D., campaign manager for Doctors for Dignity for Compassion & Choices.

    Six states have explicitly authorized medical aid in dying California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, along with the District of Columbia.  Collectively, these seven jurisdictions represent 18 percent of the nation’s population and have 40 years of combined experience of safely using this end-of-life care option.

    The key survey results are below and posted here.

    • By a 2-1 margin, Massachusetts physicians (60%) said they strongly support (29%) or support (31%) “medical aid in dying…the practice of physicians giving terminally-ill adults prescriptions for lethal medications, to be self-administered at such time as the patient sees fit” vs. oppose or strongly oppose this end-of-life care option (30%).
    • By a more than 2-1 margin, physicians (62%) said they strongly support (27%) or support (35%) “proposed ’aid-in-dying legislation’ in Massachusetts, ‘an Act relative to end of life options’ (House bill 1194/Senate bill 1225)” vs. oppose or strongly oppose the legislation (28%).
    • By a 2-1 margin, Massachusetts physicians (60%) either favored changing the current MMS policy opposing medical aid in dying to supporting this end-of-life care option (41%) or neither formally supporting nor opposing it (19%) vs maintaining the current MMS policy of opposing it (30%).

    Numerous national and state polls show strong support for medical aid in dying among both U.S. physicians and Americans across the ethnic, political and religious spectrum.

  4. Amherst Becomes 4th Jurisdiction in Massachusetts to Endorse Medical Aid in Dying

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    Compassion & Choices praised the Amherst Town Meeting for voting tonight to endorse the Massachusetts End of Life Options Act (H.1194/S.1225). The approval vote makes Amherst the fourth jurisdiction to support medical aid in dying as an option for mentally capable, terminally ill Massachusetts adult residents with six months or less to live to end unbearable suffering.

    The Amherst vote comes less than two weeks after Northampton became the third jurisdiction in the state to endorse the End of Life Options Act.

    “We are thrilled that members of the Town Meeting voted to take the lead in supporting this compassionate end-of-life option,” said Marie Manis, Massachusetts campaign manager for Compassion & Choices. “The Amherst endorsement and the recent Northampton endorsement show that momentum is building across the state for the End of Life Options Act.”

    The resolutions call on lawmakers to pass the bill, which was introduced by Rep. Louis Kafka (8th Norfolk district), and Sen. Barbara L’Italien (2nd Essex & Middlesex district). The Town Meeting will transmit the resolution to  Governor Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and to state legislators representing Amherst.

    Medical aid in dying gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with a prognosis of six months or fewer to live the option to request, obtain and self-ingest medication to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes intolerable. The medical practice has a combined 40 years of safe use and no incidents of misuse in the seven authorized jurisdictions of Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado and the District of Columbia. 

    The campaign to pass the resolution in Amherst was spearheaded by long-time resident Nadine Shank and the Pioneer Valley Death with Dignity Action Group.

    Last year, Cambridge and Provincetown passed similar resolutions in favor of medical aid in dying.

  5. Northampton Becomes Third Jurisdiction in Massachusetts to Endorse Medical Aid in Dying

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    The Northampton City Council became the third jurisdiction in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to pass a resolution supporting medical aid in dying as a peaceful option for mentally capable, terminally ill adults to end unbearable suffering.

    The approved resolution urges state lawmakers to pass the End of Life Options Act (H.1194/S.1225), which was introduced in January by Rep. Louis Kafka (8th Norfolk district), and Sen. Barbara L’Italien (2nd Essex & Middlesex district). The resolution will be transmitted to Governor Charlie Baker, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and to state legislators representing Northampton.

    “We commend the Northampton City Council members for their local  leadership and wisdom in making this public statement,” said Marie Manis, Massachusetts campaign manager for Compassion & Choices. “This resolution amplifies the voices of Northampton voters who overwhelmingly support medical aid in dying, and will inspire other local elected officials across our state to do the same.”

    Medical aid in dying gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with a prognosis of six months or fewer to live the option to request, obtain and self-ingest medication to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable. The medical practice has a combined 40 years of safe use and no incidents of misuse in the seven authorized jurisdictions of Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado and the District of Columbia. 

     The Resolution cites the following facts:

    • [A]dvances in science and technology have created medical interventions that often prolong the dying process and increase suffering; and
    • [A]bsent the availability of aid in dying, patients and loved ones in Massachusetts have become so desperate to relieve suffering caused by terminal illness that they turn to violent means; and
    • [N]ineteen years of transparent reporting and study of aid-in-dying practice in Oregon demonstrates the utility and safety of the practice in upholding a patient’s right to self-determination.

    This campaign to pass the Northampton resolution was spearheaded by Northampton resident John Berkowitz and the Pioneer Valley Death with Dignity Action Group. The resolution was sponsored by City Councilor Dennis Bidwell and co-sponsored by Marianne Labarge and Council President Bill Dwight.

    Last year, Cambridge and Provincetown passed similar resolutions in favor of medical aid in dying.

  6. Terminally Ill Often Just Want Some Control

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    Regarding Emily Esfahani Smith’s review of Iddo Landau’s “Finding Meaning in an Imperfect World” (Bookshelf, Oct. 16): Contrary to the claims of psychiatrist William Breitbart and author Iddo Landau, there are multiple reasons terminally ill patients request medical aid in dying, not just one.

    Oregon Public Health Division statistics show terminally ill people who have utilized our state’s Death with Dignity Act over the last 19 years cite seven different reasons for requesting aid-in-dying medication so they have the option to peacefully end unbearable suffering in their last moments of life.

    During my 35-year career as a family physician before I retired in 2012, I wrote prescriptions for medical aid in dying, and I knew that the people who requested it didn’t want to end their life. They loved life but realized they had an incurable, terminal disease and didn’t want to suffer needlessly as the inevitable end of life approached.

    The proof is that more than one-third of terminally ill Oregonians who obtain the medication never take it, but they get great comfort in knowing they have access to it if they need it, which helps them suffer less.

  7. Consejo Nacional Hispano para el Adulto Mayor Apoya Leyes de Ayuda Médica para Morir

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    Compassion & Choices elogió hoy al Consejo Nacional Hispano para el Adulto Mayor (NHCOA, por sus siglas en inglés) por anunciar su apoyo a las leyes que otorgan a los adultos mentalmente competentes, con una enfermedad terminal y un pronóstico de vida de seis meses o menos, la opción de recibir asistencia médica al morir y terminar pacíficamente con su sufrimiento insoportable. La asistencia médica para morir está autorizada en el Distrito de Columbia y seis estados (California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont y Washington); tiene 40 años de experiencia combinada y no hay un solo caso de uso indebido en esta opción de cuidados al final de la vida.

    El respaldo de NHCOA a la asistencia médica al morir se produce cuando algunos miembros del Congreso intentan derogar las leyes locales que la autorizan. El mes pasado, la Cámara de Representantes de Estados Unidos aprobó un proyecto de ley de asignaciones, H.R. 3354, con una enmienda del Representante de Estados Unidos Andy Harris (Maryland), para derogar la ley Muerte con Dignidad de D.C. que autoriza la asistencia médica para morir. Doce días después, 11 miembros de la Cámara presentaron una resolución concurrente (H.Con.Res.80) que se opone a esta opción de fin de vida en todo el país.

    “Estoy profundamente preocupada por esta extra limitación federal en las decisiones más personales y privadas de los residentes de DC, el  11 por ciento de los cuales son hispanos,” dijo la Dra. Yanira Cruz, Presidenta y Directora Ejecutiva de NHCOA,. “La mayoría de las personas no necesitarán ayuda médica para morir, pero las leyes que autorizan esta opción benefician a muchos adultos con enfermedades terminales, estimulando las conversaciones con los médicos y seres queridos sobre todas las opciones de cuidados al final de la vida, incluidos los cuidados paliativos y la mejor utilización de ellos”.

    Con sede en Washington, DC, el Consejo Nacional Hispano para el Adulto Mayor es la principal organización nacional que trabaja para mejorar la vida de los adultos mayores hispanos, sus familias y cuidadores. El grupo llega a millones de latinos cada año, trabajando para garantizar que la comunidad hispana sea comprendida y justamente representada en la políticas de Estados Unidos.

    “El apoyo del Consejo Nacional Hispano para el Adulto Mayor es una voz fuerte y poderosa que una vez más demuestra la necesidad de la práctica médica que ayuda a morir”, dijo Kim Callinan, jefe de programa de Compassion & Choices. “Es un elemento clave de la atención centrada en el paciente porque ejemplifica un sistema médico que reconoce que los pacientes deben ser los principales responsables en la toma de decisiones sobre cómo viven sus últimos días”.

    Las encuestas nacionales y estatales demuestran un fuerte apoyo a la asistencia médica en la muerte en todo espectro ético, político y religioso, incluido el 69 por ciento de los latinos  y 57 por ciento de los médicos en todo el país. Un número creciente de organizaciones médicas, nacionales y estatales, han respaldado o adoptado una posición neutral sobre la asistencia médica en la muerte  como una opción de cuidados al final de la vida para adultos mentalmente competentes, con una enfermedad terminal.

    El apoyo de los legisladores latinos a la asistencia médica en la muerte se ha incrementado drásticamente en Estados Unidos desde que Miguel Carrasquillo, un nativo de Puerto Rico, terminalmente enfermo, apareció en videos que abogaban por esta opción.

    Miguel, un ex chef de 35 años que también vivió en New York y Chicago, estaba muriendo de cáncer cerebral cuando grabó entrevistas bilingües en inglés y en español para instar a sus compañeros latinos a apoyar a los adultos con enfermedades terminales para poder recibir la opción de ayuda médica al morir. Desafortunadamente, Miguel murió en junio de 2016 sin recibir la opción que pudo terminar con su dolor agonizante porque en Puerto Rico no está permitida.

    Desde la muerte de Miguel, seis estados con grandes poblaciones latinas han aprobado o presentado proyectos de ley para autorizar la ayuda médica al morir: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico y New York. Legisladores latinos han sido los patrocinadores de la ley en cuatro estados: Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey y New York.

    “Los latinos no deberían verse obligados a sufrir innecesariamente como lo hizo Miguel porque no tenía la opción de morir pacíficamente”, dijo Patricia A. González-Portillo, directora nacional de comunicaciones y circunscripción electoral latino de Compassion & Choices. “Deberíamos tener acceso a toda la gama de opciones para el final de la vida y también todos los estadounidenses”.

     

  8. National Hispanic Council on Aging Endorses Medical Aid-in-Dying Laws

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    Compassion & Choices praised the National Hispanic Council on Aging (NHCOA) today for announcing it supports laws giving mentally capable terminally ill adults with six months of fewer to live the option of medical aid in dying to peacefully end unbearable suffering.  Medical aid in dying is authorized in the District of Columbia and six states (California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, Washington) with 40 years of combined experience without any misuse of this end-of-life care option.

    The NHCOA endorsement of medical aid in dying comes as some members of Congress are trying to repeal local laws authorizing it. Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill, H.R. 3354, with an amendment by U.S. Rep. Andy Harris (Maryland), to repeal D.C.’s Death with Dignity Act that authorizes medical aid in dying.  Twelve days later, 11 House members introduced a concurrent resolution (H.Con.Res.80) opposing this end-of-life option nationwide.

    “I am deeply concerned about this federal overreach into the most personal, private decisions of D.C. residents, 11 percent of whom are Hispanic,” said NHCOA CEO/President Dr. Yanira Cruz. “Most people won’t need medical aid in dying, but laws authorizing this option benefit many terminally ill adults, by spurring conversations with their physicians and loved ones about all end-of-life care options, including hospice and palliative care, and better utilization of them.”

    Headquartered in Washington, DC, the National Hispanic Council on Aging is the leading national organization working to improve the lives of Hispanic older adults, their families and their caregivers. The group reaches millions of Latinos each year, working to ensure the Hispanic community is better understood and fairly represented in U.S. policies.

    “The support of the National Hispanic Council on Aging is a loud and powerful voice that once again demonstrates the need for the medical practice of aid in dying,” said Compassion & Choices Chief Program Officer Kim Callinan.  “It is a critical element of patient-centered care because it exemplifies a medical system that recognizes that patients should be the primary decision-maker in how they live their final days.”

    Both national and state polls show strong support for medical aid in dying across the ethnic, political, and religious spectrum, including 69 percent of Latino Americans and 57 percent of doctors nationwide. A growing number of national and state medical organizations have endorsed or adopted a neutral position on medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option for mentally capable, terminally ill adults.

    Latino lawmakers’ support for medical aid in dying has dramatically increased in the United States since Miguel Carrasquillo, a terminally ill Puerto Rico native, appeared in videos advocating for this option.

    Miguel, a 35-year-old former chef who also had lived in New York and Chicago, was dying of brain cancer when he recorded bilingual interviews in English and in Spanish to urge his fellow Latinos to support giving terminally ill adults the option of medical aid in dying. Unfortunately, Miguel died in June 2016 without this option to end his agonizing pain because Puerto Rico has not authorized it.

    Since Miguel’s death, six states with large Latino populations have either passed or introduced laws to authorize medical aid in dying: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York. Latino lawmakers are sponsors of legislation in four of those states: Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey and New York.

    “Latinos should not be forced to suffer needlessly as Miguel did because he did not have the option to die peacefully,” said Patricia A. González-Portillo, national Latino communications and constituency director for Compassion & Choices. “ We should have access to the full range of end-of-life options and so should every other American.”

  9. Modern Medicine Comes Around

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    Changing established institutions can be a slow and difficult undertaking, but it’s necessary for real progress. The American healthcare system is one of these institutions, and Compassion & Choices has been working with physicians strategically for years to move it toward a more person-centered model — a hallmark of which is medical aid in dying. So, after much perseverance, we’re thrilled to be seeing substantial shifts in the official positions of medical societies, powerful authorities on healthcare standards and practice, across the nation.

    Nine medical societies have dropped their long-held opposition to medical aid in dying and adopted neutral or supportive stances — eight of them since June 2015. To date, this includes:
    » Oregon Medical Association (1994)
    » California Medical Association (2015)
    » New York State Academy of Family Physicians (2016)
    » Colorado Medical Society (2016)
    » Maryland State Medical Society (2016)
    » Medical Society of the District of Columbia (2016)
    » Nevada State Medical Association (2017)
    » Maine Medical Association (2017)
    » Minnesota Medical Association (2017)

    The New York Academy of Family Physicians, in fact, moved from a neutral to a supportive position on medical aid in dying this past summer, noting that a “position of neutrality can have negative consequences for patients and can be viewed as patient abandonment.”

    Supporting the authorization of medical aid in dying is commensurate with the family physician’s desire to empower our patients not only in their pursuit of wellness, their management of chronic disease, but also the alleviation of suffering when faced with a terminal illness.

    – Dr. Sarah Nosal, President of the New York State Academy of Family Physicians

    Such turnarounds make room for the ever-growing number of doctors who support medical aid in dying — by a margin of two to one, according to December 2016 Medscape polling data. Medical society approval or neutrality also reduces barriers to access for patients. Even more importantly, this increasing acceptance represents a sea change in the political dynamics around our issues and will help improve the overall delivery of care.

    Doctors for Dignity, an initiative of Compassion & Choices, is a nationwide network of physicians who support patient autonomy at the end of life.

    To join Doctors for Dignity or to learn more, visit CompassionAndChoices.org/D4D.

  10. Defending and Protecting End-of-Life Options in the Courts

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    Ahn v. Hestrin, California

    On June 16, a superior court ruled that a lawsuit to overturn the California End of Life Option Act will proceed to trial to determine the case’s merits.

    Last year, the court accepted a friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of Compassion & Choices urging it to deny the plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction. Thankfully, the court rejected the motion, as well as a prior motion for a temporary restraining order, so the law remains in effect for now.

    “Overturning the End of Life Option Act would have devastating consequences for terminally ill Californians and their families,” said Kevin Díaz, national director of legal advocacy for Compassion & Choices.

    Kligler v. Healey, Massachusetts

    On June 5, a Massachusetts judge rejected a motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Compassion & Choices asserting the state constitution protects, and existing state law does not bar, mentally capable, terminally ill adults from getting a prescription for aid-in-dying medication.

    “My wife, Cathy, and I are elated with this initial ruling,” said lead plaintiff Dr. Roger Kligler, who suffers from stage 4 metastatic prostate cancer.

    “We are pleased with the court’s decision because it will allow our clients to challenge the constitutionality of the law without having to take actions that could risk prosecution by an aggressive district attorney,” said John Kappos, a partner at the O’Melveny law firm, which together with the Morgan Lewis law firm and Compassion & Choices represents the plantiffs in the case. “We need the court to clarify the law because the prosecution threat is real to physicians who provide medical aid in dying to terminally ill patients … and patients’ senseless suffering without this option is equally real.”

    To learn more about Compassion & Choices in the courts, visit CompassionAndChoices.org/ legal-resources.