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Tag Archive: Aid in Dying

  1. New Jersey General Assembly Judiciary Committee Passes Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act

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    Susan Boyce speaks in support of the bill as Rev. Gillian McAllister looks on. Photo courtesy of Carlos Iván Merino. 

    The New Jersey General Assembly Judiciary Committee today voted 5 to 2 to pass the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act (A.1504/S.1072), New Jersey’s proposed medical aid-in-dying legislation. Medical aid in dying gives mentally capable, terminally ill individuals with a prognosis of six months or less to live the option to request, obtain and self-ingest medication to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable.

    Championed by Assemblymembers John J. Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro), Tim Eustace (D- Bergen) and Joe Danielsen (D-Franklin Township), the bill will now move on to a General Assembly vote.

    The campaign to advance the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act  is powered by thousands of New Jersey supporters, coalitions and volunteers, including the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Social Workers and the New Jersey Psychological Association, as well as members of the state’s medical, scientific and religious communities.

    “I’m grateful that the bill sponsors have been such diligent champions of this bill and that the Committee has recognized the peace of mind that this end-of-life care option provides,” said Susan Boyce, a Rumson, New Jersey resident living with a progressive, terminal, genetic disease; Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency. “While I continue to do all I can to live my life as I wish, should my treatment options become exhausted, I would like my life to end the way I’ve lived: surrounded by my friends and loved ones. The Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act will give me the freedom to achieve a peaceful death.”

    Debra Dunn, Paramus, New Jersey resident and operating room nurse who lost her husband to terminal pancreatic cancer, stated: “My husband did not live long enough to witness this important vote today regarding the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.  I know he was there in spirit with me as I advocated for others to seek passage of the medical aid-in-dying bill so that other terminally ill New Jerseyans can have peace of mind knowing they will be able to die on their own terms should their suffering become unbearable.”

    Today’s vote is a tribute to the advocacy of the people of New Jersey, especially the terminally ill who fought to advance this legislation even in their final days, but were not able to utilize it,” said Corinne Carey, New Jersey Campaign Director for Compassion & Choices. “We commend the Committee today for putting us on the path to passing a law to provide all terminally ill, mentally competent New Jerseyans who seek it with this important end-of-life care option.”

    If enacted, A.1504/S.1072 would poise New Jersey  to join the six other states as well as the District of Columbia in enacting medical aid-in-dying laws. Oregon, where medical aid in dying has been authorized for two decades (since 1997), has been joined since then by Washington (2008), Montana (2009), Vermont (2013), California (2015), Colorado (2016), and the District of Columbia (2017).

  2. Hawaii Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill Passes House Floor Bipartisan Vote 39 to 12

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    Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i applauded the state House of Representatives for its bipartisan 39 to 12 vote to pass legislation after a third and final reading today that would authorize medical aid in dying as an option for terminally ill adults in Hawai‘i. The bill, whose title is the “Our Care, Our Choice Act” (HB 2739), now crosses over to the Senate for its consideration.

    If enacted, the Our Care, Our Choice Act would allow Hawai‘i to join seven other jurisdictions in authorizing terminally ill adults of sound mind to request and receive a prescription they may self-administer to bring about a peaceful death. Oregon, where medical aid in dying has been authorized for two decades, has been joined by Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado, and most recently, the District of Columbia.

    “Hawai‘i residents overwhelmingly support expanding end-of-life care options. While most terminally ill will never opt for medical aid in dying, they want the option because it provides comfort to those in the end stages of a terminal disease knowing that if their suffering becomes unbearable they can use this option to die peacefully in their sleep,” said Aubrey Hawk, C&C Hawai‘i communications officer. “By advancing the Our Care, Our Choice Act, the House has shown a commitment to improving end-of-life care for all kama‘aina because these laws spur people to discuss all their end-of-life care options, including hospice and palliative care, and to utilize them more effectively.”

    An Anthology Research Group survey among likely voters conducted in November 2016 showed broad and deep support for medical aid in dying. Eighty percent of Hawai‘i residents believe medical aid in dying should be an authorized option for terminally ill, mentally capable adults who have less than six months to live. After more than 20 years of local grassroots effort, the issue in recent years has been gaining a groundswell of support among local medical and interfaith groups.

  3. Hawai‘i House Health & Human Services and Judiciary Committees Approve Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill

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    Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i applauds the Hawai‘i House Health & Human Services (HHS) and Judiciary (JUD) Committees for their overwhelming 4 to 1 vote (HHS) and 7 to 1 vote (JUD) today to approve medical aid-in-dying legislation, “Our Care, Our Choice Act,” HB2739, for full House consideration following a joint public hearing on the bill on Monday.

    “Terminally ill kama‘aina who have six months or less to live cannot wait any longer to access this option,” said Aubrey Hawk, communications officer for Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i. “We look forward to working with the legislature to expand end-of-life care options for terminally ill kama‘aina to give them and their families peace of mind.”

    Medical aid in dying is an end-of-life medical practice in which a terminally ill, mentally capable individual who has a prognosis of six months or less to live requests, obtains and—if his or her suffering becomes unbearable—self-ingests medication to die peacefully in their sleep.

    Hundreds of supporters crowded the auditorium at the state Capitol to urge lawmakers to pass the Our Care, Our Choice Act. HB2739 now faces a floor vote and then moves to a third reading before crossover to the Senate.

    Health & Human Services Chair John Mizuno said, “This issue is a matter of providing people with a choice and everyone should be able to make this decision for themselves. For people who decide they want this option there will be proper safeguards in place to protect everyone involved and prevent any possible abuse.”

    Compassion & Choices Hawai‘i applauded Governor David Ige’s statement to the committee in favor of medical aid-in-dying legislation.

    “It’s time for this bill to become law’” Gov. Ige said. “Mentally competent, terminally ill people who are in pain and who are suffering should be given the choice to end their lives with grace, dignity and peace. I would be proud and honored to sign this bill into law if our state legislators pass this measure this session.”

    In addition to Gov. Ige, Hawaii’s four previous Democratic governors have publicly endorsed medical aid in dying, as have more than 30 organizations, including the National Alliance on Mental Illness Hawai‘i, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Hawai‘i, and Hawai‘i State AFL-CIO.

    The people of Hawai‘i have been striving to gain access to a medical aid-in-dying option for more than 20 years, and C&C Hawai‘i has built a larger-than-ever base of grassroots support. A 2016 poll (click here for full Hawai‘i polling data) shows 80 percent of Hawai‘i voters support a medical aid in dying law, and the issue has been gaining a groundswell of support among medical and interfaith groups.

    The Reverend John Heidel (ret.) testified on behalf of his fellow Interfaith Alliance Hawai‘i members.

    “We respect the right of competent adults to make their own decisions concerning end of life choices according to their own beliefs and values,” Rev. Heidel testified. “I do not believe it is up to me, or any other religious leader, to dictate how this  final, intimate decision between a dying person and his or her God should be made. Instead, we must support and accept such decisions even if they do not represent the course we ourselves might choose; this is the meaning of freedom of choice and mutual respect.”

  4. Latinos unen Sus Fuerzas Para Ayudar a Expandir el Acceso a la Ley Opciones al Final de la Vida” Para Residentes Moribundos de Colorado

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    From L to R: Dan Diaz, Nilsa Centeno, and Colorado Representative Joann Ginal

    Los latinos se unieron hoy para impulsar el apoyo a un mejor acceso a la ley Opciones al Final de la Vida, que autoriza a los enfermos terminales de Colorado a usar la ayuda médica para morir y terminar así, pacíficamente, con su sufrimiento insoportable.

    Una mayoría abrumadora de residentes de Colorado (65%) votó por la ley Opciones al Final de la Vida en 2016, incluyendo la mayoría de los latinos. La ley da a los adultos con una enfermedad terminal, mentalmente competentes y con un pronóstico de vida de seis meses o menos, la opción de solicitar a un médico la prescripción de un medicamento que pueden tomar por sí mismos para morir pacíficamente cuando su sufrimiento se vuelve insoportable.

    El primer informe del Departamento de Salud Pública y Medio Ambiente de Colorado, publicado a principios de este mes, muestra que la ley está funcionando según lo estipulado, pero aún se necesita mucho trabajo para mejorar el acceso a ella.

    Patricia A. González-Portillo, Directora Nacional para la comunidad latina de Compassion & Choices dijo: “Las barreras de acceso continúan existiendo, incluyendo la percepción errónea de que los centros de salud pueden prohibir a los doctores que prescriban el medicamento que ayuda a morir a sus pacientes terminales que quieran tomar esta opción al final de sus dís.

    Simpatizantes de diferentes culturas y creencias religiosas se reunieron en la rotonda del Capitolio del estado con una oración dirigida por el Rabino Adam Morris del Templo Micah en Denver, quien ha asesorado y orado con personas que se preparan para el final de sus días.

    “Ningún paciente, médico o farmaceuta tiene que participar en esta ley”, dijo. “Pero debemos hacer todo lo que podamos para ayudar a todas las personas elegibles que quieran acceder a la ley, así como a los médicos y farmaceutas que quieran ayudar a proveer esta opción de cuidado de salud para el final de la vida”.

    La representante Joann Ginal, defensora desde hace mucho tiempo de la ayuda médica para morir, recalcó que “la enfermedad terminal no discrimina, por lo que es muy importante que todos puedan tener una conversación con sus doctores sobre las opciones al final de sus días”.

    El doctor Charles Hamlin, M.D., un cirujano retirado, habló sobre el papel de los doctores en las discusiones sobre el final de la vida. “No son sólo los pacientes lo que necesitan comenzar esta importante conversación, también es responsabilidad de los médicos el asegurarse que sus pacientes entiendan sus opciones”.

    Dan Diaz, esposo de la desaparecida Brittany Maynard, la mujer californiana de 29 años que tenía cáncer cerebral y abogó por las leyes de asistencia médica para morir hasta su muerte, habló de su traslado a Oregon en 2014 para utilizar la ley Muerte con Dignidad para su esposa. California no contaba con dicha ley en ese momento, pero pasaron las últimas vacaciones en Colorado porque era el lugar favorito de Brittany.

    “Brittany y Miguel están ahora en paz y me da consuelo saber que ninguno de los dos está sufriendo más”, dijo, “Pero el contraste entre sus muertes debe servir como un recordatorio de la importancia de esta vital legislación.”

    Nilsa Centeno contuvo la lágrimas mientras hablaba de su único hijo, Miguel Carrasquillo, un ex neoyorquino cuyo horrible sufrimiento por el cáncer cerebral le impulso a grabar entrevistas bilingües en inglés y español para Compassion & Choices para exhortar a los legisladores de todo el país para aprobar esta opción de fin de vida. Miguel murió en 2016 en su natal Puerto Rico, con sólo 35 años.

    Para ver el video de Miguel Carrasquillo en INGLES, clic: bit.ly/Miguelvideo para el video en ESPANOL, clic: bit.ly/MiguelSpVideo

    “Mi hijo Miguel no tenía acceso a la ayuda médica para morir, pero los residentes de Colorado tienen esa opción y deben hacer todo lo que esté en su poder para asegurarse de que las personas moribundas no tengan que pasar por un largo proceso”, dijo Nilsa. “Miguel simplemente quería terminar con su sufrimiento, no por desesperación o depresión, sino para mantener un poco de consuelo en sus últimos días, para irse en paz.”

    El apoyo de los latinos ha aumentado dramáticamente desde que Miguel abogó por leyes de ayuda médica para morir en todo el país.

    Gracias al apoyo de los latinos, incluyendo a la defensora de los derechos civiles Dolores Huerta, el activista, actor y director Edward James Olmos y al actor mexicano Mauricio Ochmann, hoy el 69 por ciento de los latinos apoyan la ayuda médica para morir.

    Además, seis estados con una gran población latina han aprobado o promulgad leyes para autorizar la asistencia médica para morir: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico y New York. Legisladores latinos son los patrocinadores de la ley en cuatro de estos estados: Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey y New York. Y más organizaciones latinas en todo el país, como Hispanic Council on Aging (Consejo Hispano sobre el Envejecimiento), Latino Commission on AIDS (Comisión Latina sobre el SIDA) y el Hispanic Health Network (Red Hispana de la Salud), están mostrando su apoyo.

    Actualmente seis estados han autorizado explícitamente la ayuda médica para morir (California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, y Washington), junto con el Distrito de Columbia. Colectivamente, estas siete jurisdicciones representan el 18 por ciento de la población de la nación y el 30 por ciento de la población latina. A través de estas jurisdicciones tenemos una combinación de 40 años de experiencia en el uso seguro de esta opción de cuidados al final de la vida.

  5. Latinos Join Forces to Help Expand Access to the End-of-Life Options Act for Dying Coloradans

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    From L to R: Dan Diaz, Nilsa Centeno, and Colorado Representative Joann Ginal

    Latinos joined forces today to urge support for improved access to the Colorado End-of-Life Options Act that authorizes terminally ill Coloradans to utilize medical aid in dying to peacefully end unbearable suffering.

    An overwhelming majority of Coloradans (65%) voted for the End-of-Life Options Act in 2016, including a majority of Latinos. The law gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with a prognosis of six months or less to live the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully if their suffering becomes unbearable.

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s first annual report about the law released earlier this month shows it is working, but there is still work to be done to improve access to it.

    Patricia A. González-Portillo, national Latino constituency director for Compassion & Choices said, “Barriers to access continue to exist, including the misperception that healthcare facilities can prohibit doctors from prescribing medical aid-in-dying prescriptions to their terminally ill patients who want this end-of-life care option.”

    Supporters from different cultures and faiths gathered at the Rotunda of the State Capitol with a prayer led by Rabbi Adam Morris of Temple Micah in Denver, who has counseled and prayed with people as they prepared for the end of their lives.

    “No patient, physician or pharmacist has to participate in this law,” he said. “But we should do everything we can to help eligible individuals who want to access the law do so and not impede physicians and pharmacists who want to help provide this end-of-life care option.”

    Representative Joann Ginal, a long-time advocate for medical aid in dying, made the point that, “Terminal illness doesn’t discriminate, which is why it’s so important for everyone to have a conversation with their doctor about end-of-life options.”

    Dr. Charles Hamlin, M.D., a retired surgeon, spoke about the role of doctors in end-of-life discussions. “It’s not just patients who need to start these important conversations; it’s up to physicians to make sure those they care for understand their options.”

    Dan Diaz, husband of the late Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old Californian woman who had terminal brain cancer and advocated for medical aid-in-dying laws, spoke about their move to Oregon in 2014 to utilize its Death with Dignity Act. California did not have such a law at the time, but they spent her last vacation in Colorado before she died because it was her favorite place.

    “Brittany and Miguel are now at peace and it brings me solace to know that neither one is suffering anymore,” he said. “But the contrast between their deaths should serve as a reminder of the importance of this vital legislation.”

    Nilsa Centeno held back tears as she spoke of her only son, Miguel Carrasquillo, a former New Yorker whose horrific suffering from brain cancer prompted him to record bilingual interviews in English and in Spanish for Compassion & Choices urging lawmakers nationwide to approve this end of life option. Miguel died in 2016 in his native Puerto Rico. He was only 35-years-old.

    To view new video of Miguel Carrasquillo in ENGLISH, click: bit.ly/Miguelvideo for video in SPANISH, click: bit.ly/MiguelSpVideo

    “My son, Miguel did not have access to medical aid in dying, but Coloradans have that option and they should do everything in their power to make sure that dying people don’t have to go through a lengthy process,” said Nilsa. “He simply wanted end to his suffering, not out of despair or depression, but to maintain some comfort in his final days so that he could pass gently.”

    Latino support has increased dramatically since MIguel advocated for medical aid-in-dying laws nationwide.

    Thanks to the advocacy of Latinos, including civil rights advocate Dolores Huerta, activist, actor and director Edward James Olmos and Mexican actor Mauricio Ochmann, today 69 percent of Hispanics support medical aid in dying.

    In addition, six states with a large Latino population 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. And more Latino organizations throughout the country, like the Hispanic Council on Aging, the Latino Commission on AIDS and the Hispanic Health Network, are coming forward in support.

    Currently, 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 30 percent of the Latino population. Across these jurisdictions, we have a combined 40 years of experience safely using this end-of-life care option.

  6. Grupos Latinos De Salud Respaldan El Proyecto De Ley De Ayuda Médica Para Morir En Nueva York

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    La Comisión Latina sobre el SIDA y el Hispanic Health Network, anunció hoy que se unirá a Compassion and Choices en la campaña para que se autorice la Ley de Ayuda Médica Para Morir de Nueva York (S.3151/A.2383) lo más pronto posible. El proyecto de ley daría a los Neoyorquinos con enfermedades terminales, la opción de solicitar una receta médica para obtener un medicamento con el que decidan morir si su sufrimiento se vuelve insoportable.

    “Este respaldo de la Comisión Latina sobre el SIDA y el Hispanic Health Network, es un gran impulso para nuestra campaña a fin de que se autorice la muerte asistida médica como una opción para los Neoyorquinos con enfermedades terminales y dar fin al sufrimiento insoportable”, dijo Kim Callinan, Directora Ejecutiva de Compassion & Choices. “Aún tenemos mucho trabajo para hacer avances en el proyecto de ley y estoy encantada de que lo estaremos haciendo juntos.”

    “La realidad es que no importa cuanto lo intentemos, no podemos escapar del ciclo de la vida y la muerte“, dijo Guillermo Chacón, presidente de la Comisión Latina sobre el SIDA y fundador de la Red Hispana de Salud. “Mi creencia es que si llega el momento cuando ya no podemos soportar el sufrimiento que afectó a Miguel y a tantos de mis amigos que murieron de cáncer o de SIDA, un Dios misericordioso entenderá que todos debemos tener la opción de morir pacíficamente”.

    Partidarios de diferentes culturas y de fe se congregaron en los escalones del Palacio Municipal de Nueva York con una oración dirigida por el Padre Luis Barrios, Ph.D, pastor de la Iglesia Episcopal Holyrood en los altos de Manhattan, así también como profesor latino de psicología de John Jay College of Criminal Justice en el centro de Manhattan. El Padre Barrios ha sido consejero y ha orado con las personas que viven y mueren de SIDA, mientras se preparaban para su fin de vida. Una de esas personas fue su hermano Samuel, quien en su estado debilitado en la etapa final de SIDA, le dijo que queria ayuda para morir pacíficamente.

    “Me senté junto a sus camas mientras ellos suplicaban ayuda para morir,” dijo el Padre Barrios. “El recuerdo de mi hermano Samuel, de Miguel y de otros latinos de los cuales he sido consejero al final de sus vidas, me ha ayudado a prestar hoy mi voz para apoyar la campaña que autorice la ayuda médica para morir.”

    El apoyo de la Comisión Latina Sobre el SIDA y el Hispanic Health Network  llega justo unos cuantos meses después de que el Consejo Nacional Hispano para el Adulto Mayor (NHCOA), respaldara oficialmente la práctica de ayuda médica para morir.

    Nilsa Centeno contuvo las lagrimas mientras hablo de su único hijo, Miguel Carrasquillo, ex Neoyorquino cuyo horrible sufrimiento por un cáncer cerebral, lo llevó a grabar entrevistas bilingües en inglés y en español para Compassion & Choices, instando a los legisladores de todo el país para que aprobaran esta opción de fin de vida. Miguel murió en el 2016 en su natal Puerto Rico. Tenía sólo 35 años de edad.

    “He encontrado consuelo en la promesa que le hice a mi único hijo, Miguel durante sus últimos días de vida,” dijo Centeno. “Le prometí que iba a luchar para hacer que la muerte asistida médica se convirtiera en una opción para las personas con enfermedades terminales no tuvieran que sufrir en agonía como él lo hizo.”

    Para ver el video nuevo de Miguel Carrasquillo en INGLÉS, haga clic a este enlace: bit.ly/Miguelvideo y para ver el video en ESPAÑOL, haga clic a este enlace: bit.ly/MiguelSpVideo

    “He pasado horas consolando a los moribundos y a sus familias, y si bien es desgarrador, también a menudo es reconfortante,” dijo la Reverenda Valerie Ross, pastora de Judson Memorial Church, una iglesia Bautista en el bajo Manhattan. “Hacer más leyes compasivas sobre la muerte, ayuda a todos. Nos da el consuelo que necesitamos de nuestra sociedad y de nuestros gobiernos.”

    La organizadora de campaña de Compassion & Choices de Nueva York, Amanda Cavanaugh, se soltó en lágrimas cuando recordó la muerte de su prometida, Chrissy, quien murió en agonía a la edad de 29 años por un cáncer de hígado, el 15 de febrero del 2015.

    “Los medicamentos no podían aliviar su dolor”, dijo. “Los padres de Chrissy y yo vimos a su única hija sufrir horriblemente y no había nada que pudiéramos hacer al respecto. No fue la muerte que Chrissy quería, ni tampoco la que ella merecía.”

    Más de tres de cuatro votantes de Nueva York (77%) apoyan la muerte asistida médica, según una encuesta de Eagle Point Strategies del 2015. La encuesta del 2015 mostró que el apoyo de mayoría abarca todos los grupos demográficos que midió la encuesta, incluyendo afiliación religiosa, nivel de educación, partido político, género, edad y región del estado.

    Además del nuevo respaldo a la ley de muerte asistida médica por la Comisión Latina sobre el SIDA y el Hispanic Health Network, los siguientes grupos estatales de salud habían previamente respaldado el proyecto de ley: La Academia de Médicos Familiares del Estado de Nueva York, la Asociación de Salud Pública del Estado de Nueva York y la Coalición del Cáncer de Seno de Rochester.

  7. Compassion & Choices Presents Hundreds of Petition Signatures in Support of New Jersey’s Medical Aid-in-Dying Bill to Governor Murphy

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    Mary Creagan, who lost her brother and husband to terminal cancer, presents petitions to Gov. Murphy’s director of constituency with Kim Callinan and Corinne Carey.

    Compassion & Choices was joined by advocates, supporters and family members of deceased, terminally Ill New Jerseyans, in presenting over 500 petitions in support of New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act (A1504/S1072) to Governor Phil Murphy.

    The petition reads: “Congratulations, Governor Murphy! We look forward to the day when New Jersey residents will enjoy the same end of life options as residents in other progressive, forward looking states including Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado, and Washington, DC. I am among the 63 percent of New Jersey voters who believe that qualified terminally ill, mentally capable adults should have the right to request and receive medication that they can take to achieve a peaceful death. Please join us in supporting New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.”

    “Today we congratulate Governor Murphy and look forward to demonstrating to him not only the overwhelming support for medical aid in dying among New Jerseyans but also the sound public policy and improvements in end-of-life care this option has brought to those states where it is a permitted medical practice,” said Corinne Carey, Compassion & Choices New Jersey Campaign Director.

    “Governor Murphy and the Legislature are in a unique position to take on the pressing issue of improving end-of-life care and expanding options for the residents of New Jersey,” said Kim Callinan, chief executive officer of Compassion & Choices. “As a former resident of New Jersey, I urge state lawmakers to respect the wishes of their dying constituents – even if they differ from their own – and pass the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act.”

    New Jersey’s Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act, sponsored by Sen. Nicholas Scutari(D-Linden) and Assemblymembers John J. Burzichelli (D-Paulsboro), Tim Eustace (D- Bergen) and Joe Danielson (D-Franklin Township), would give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to get a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take if their end-of-life suffering becomes unbearable so they can die peacefully in their sleep.

    The legislation has a large coalition of supporters, including the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, the New Jersey chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the New Jersey Psychological Association, as well as members of the state’s medical, scientific and religious communities. In addition, 63 percent of New Jersey residents said they would support an aid-in-dying bill that “would allow terminally ill patients to obtain a prescription to end their lives,” according to a 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton poll.

    Susan Boyce from Rumson, a mother of four children who is living with progressive, terminal, genetic disease Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency, said: “I am heartened by the support that my fellow New Jerseyans continue to show for medical aid in dying. I continue to do all I can to fight my illness, but if and when my treatment options become exhausted, I would like my life to end the way I’ve lived: surrounded by my friends and loved ones. An end-of-life options law would give me the freedom to achieve a peaceful death. My fellow advocates and I have only one goal: to be afforded the right to decide how we spend our final days.”

    Mary Creagan from Mount Laurel, said: “My brother, Michael, died three years ago after terminal throat cancer spread to his brain. Although he was in Hospice care at home, he was heavily sedated and in a lot of pain. His greatest wish was to have a peaceful end to his suffering. He spent most of the final weeks of his life begging for help to be let go. Medical aid in dying is a decision he should have been able to make for himself; a peaceful, sound option when his pain and suffering became too much to bear.”

  8. Kaiser Permanente Southern California Study Shows California End of Life Option Act Working Well

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    Alyson Lynch, C&C Communications Coordinator

    The California End of Life Option Act (CA EOLOA) took effect in June 2016, allowing terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to pursue medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option. California became the most populous and diverse state to pass a medical aid-in-dying law, and many wondered how access would differ in the Golden State from smaller, more homogeneous authorized states such as Oregon, Washington and Vermont.

    In late December, JAMA [Journal of the American Medical Association] Internal Medicine published data on Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s experience in the first year of implementation of the CA EOLOA. Kaiser Permanente Southern California serves over 4 million people and represents 6,000 doctors in the southern counties of the state. When the law was passed, it formed an EOLOA taskforce to ensure they had the proper policies in place and hired EOLOA-licensed social work coordinators to assist patients and physicians in navigating the law. Their detailed account of individual experiences is a testament to the importance of supportive health systems and doctors when providing end-of-life care. The data provides important insight into who is accessing the law and why.

    According to the study, 379 patients inquired about medical aid in dying in the first year, 176 (46%) made a first request, 92 (24%) received a prescription and at least 68 of the 92 people (73%) who received a prescription ingested the medication (eight did not, and 16 are unknown); 76% of patients who were prescribed medical aid-in-dying medication had cancer, and 76% of patients who ingested the medication had cancer. More than half (55%) of patients were receiving palliative care or hospice at the time of their inquiry. Not wanting to suffer was listed as one of the most common reasons patients cited for seeking EOLOA, along with not being able to enjoy daily activities.

    The full report is posted here.

  9. Legislators, Advocates and Compassion & Choices Kick Off the Campaign to Pass New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act in 2018

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    Corinne Carey, Compassion & Choices NY Campaign Director, addresses the crowd at 2018 campaign kickoff at the New York State Capitol.

    Compassion & Choices kicked off the campaign to pass New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act (S.3151/A.2383) in 2018 with a Capitol news conference today. The lead sponsors of the bill – Senator Diane Savino (IDC-Staten Island) and Amy Paulin (D-Westchester) – along with Assembly Health Committee Chairman Dick Gottfried (D-Manhattan) and other sponsors of the legislation pointed to greater understanding of and growing support for medical aid in dying within the Legislature.

    Senator Diane Savino (IDC-Staten Island), prime sponsor or the bill, said: “Medical aid in dying continues to gain traction at the Capitol, and we are moving closer to the day when New York authorizes medical aid in dying. The fight won’t be won because of press releases sent out by people who haven’t even taken the time to read the bill and learn the facts. We will get this law passed because it’s the right thing to do. I am the first to say that medical aid in dying is not for everyone. I don’t know what my decision would be if I were in that situation. But I do know I would want the option for me, my loved ones and all New Yorkers who want that option.”

    Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-Westchester), prime sponsor of the bill, said: “As support for medical aid in dying continues to grow and as the experiences in other states continue to show how well the laws work, I am ever more optimistic that New York will soon join those other six states by passing the Medical Aid in Dying Act. The time has come to make this compassionate end-of-life option available to all New Yorkers who want the option.”

    Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried, a co-sponsor of the bill, said: “Support for medical aid in dying is growing in the health community. I look forward to seeing the results of the survey of New York doctors being conducted by the Medical Society of the State of New York. And I am optimistic that we will move the Medical Aid in Dying Act through the Assembly Health Committee and on towards Assembly passage this year.”

    “Across the country, a growing number of those who are terminally ill have gained the right to ask for medical aid in dying to forestall needless suffering at the end of their lives. Not here in New York. At least, not yet. But we know that if it were up to voters, 2018 would be the year. Voters want New York to join Washington DC and six other states, including our neighbor Vermont, in allowing an end-of-life option that few will ever use, but will provide countless others with peace of mind,” said Corinne Carey, Compassion & Choices NY campaign director. “The bill enjoys overwhelming public support among New York voters. The time is right. It’s time to pass this law. This session.” 

    New York’s Medical Aid in Dying Act:

    •  Optional for patients; optional for doctors.
    •  Only for mentally-capable, terminally-ill adults with six months or less to live.
    •  Must be self-ingested.
    •  Strongly supported by the public, according to Gallup and LifeWay Research (LifeWay Christian Resources), and doctors.
    • More than a dozen studies conclude that medical aid in dying benefits many terminally ill adults, whether they use the option or not, because it spurs conversations about all end-of-life care options, and reduces suffering by inspiring more frequent usage of hospice, palliative care and pain management.
    • The Disability Rights Legal Center has declared that medical aid in dying “poses no threat to people with disabilities.”
    • Safely practiced in:
      • Oregon (for more than two decades)
      • Washington
      • Montana
      •  Vermont
      • California
      • Colorado
      • Washington, DC

    Compassion & Choices NY Campaign Organizer, Amanda Cavanaugh with medical aid in dying advocates, supporters and storytellers at 2018 Campaign Kickoff at the New York State Capitol.

    Barbara Thomas, Saratoga Springs, told the heart wrenching story about her husband, Bob, who died six years ago next week, after a painful bout of brain cancer. She said:

    “By April of 2011, Bob was ready to die. To be clear, Bob was not suicidal. He wanted to live; but his cancer chose to end his life. All he was asking for was assistance in ending his suffering when he couldn’t take it anymore. He asked me to get his pistol so he could shoot himself.  I didn’t, couldn’t, do it.

    “I still feel guilty that I didn’t help him escape his misery. At the end, we would lay in his bed and cry together.

    “When Bob died, I vowed to myself I didn’t want anyone else I love to suffer like that. And I don’t want to suffer that way either. I’m here today to tell lawmakers that now is the time. Pass medical aid in dying in 2018,” Thomas said.

    Ida Schmertz, New York City, told about her ongoing fight against lymphoma, which she has been battling for 24 years. She said:

    “In 1994, I was diagnosed with lymphoma. That turned into Evans Syndrome, a rare disorder, where every major component of my blood system is under attack by my own immune system. Over the past 20-plus years, I have taken every medication know for these diseases, including numerous rounds of chemotherapy.

    “The last drug trial I participated in has been a remarkable success. I can now say the disease is in remission. I plan to continue an active life as long as I possibly can. But when Evans Syndrome reappears, the Medical aid in dying Act would give me incalculable peace of mind. Of course, I support strong palliative and hospice care, but I also believe medical aid in dying should be an option for every person,” Schmertz said.

    Assemblyman Luis Sepuveda (D-Bronx) said: “As more states join in with greater understanding of and growing support for medical aid in dying by creating official legislation, I believe it is also time for a forward-thinking state such as ours to also create sensible legislation on this emotional issue. Anyone who has dealt with a loved one going through often painful end-of-life illness would be the first to step up to support this legislation.”

    Medical Aid in Dying is supported by:

    • ACT UP-NY
    • Death with Dignity Albany
    • End of Life Choices NY
    • Harlem United
    • Housing Works
    • Mobilizing Preachers and Communities
    • New York Civil Liberties Union
    • New York Society for Ethical Culture
    • New York State Academy of Family Physicians
    • New York State Public Health Association
    • Rochester Breast Cancer Coalition
    • Secular Coalition of America – New York Chapter
    • Statewide Senior Action Council
    • Voters for Change-ADK

    “We know there is still more work to be done but we also know that the concerns raised by opponents have been answered by evidence and data, and by the real-life experiences of thousands of New Yorkers who have experienced a loved one’s painful passing. We will continue to talk with lawmakers to answer their questions about medical aid in dying and our supporters from across the state will continue to tell their stories. They have vowed to work so that no one’s loved one suffers needlessly at the end of life,” Carey said. “Passing the Medical Aid in Dying Act – a bill that allows all individuals to make end-of-life choices that are consistent with their faith, their values and their beliefs – in 2018 is the right thing to do. It’s the right policy and it’s the right politics.”

  10. 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.