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

Posts TaggedAid in Dying

New Brittany Maynard Video Shows Impact of Death-With-Dignity Advocate’s Message

Compassion & Choices Video Released on Eve of Deadline for CA Gov. to Act on Bill Inspired by Maynard

(Washington, D.C. – Oct. 6, 2015) Compassion & Choices today released a new video featuring California death-with-dignity advocate Brittany Maynard to commemorate the first anniversary of the organization’s partnership with Maynard and her family.

The release of never-before-seen excerpts of Maynard’s original video, recorded in Aug. 2014, which launched this historic partnership one year ago today on Oct. 6, 2014, comes one day after California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a death-with-dignity bill inspired by her to become law.

“Brittany came on the scene and set in motion a chain of events leading to the passage of an aid-in-dying bill through the California legislature less than one year after her death. We had been trying to do that since 1991,” says Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, who coauthored the Oregon death-with-dignity law. “In 2014, there were aid-in-dying bills in four states. Immediately after Brittany’s emergence on the scene, lawmakers in 25 jurisdictions, plus the District of Columbia, introduced bills.”


Brittany Maynard’s Family, Compassion & Choices Partner With California Lawmakers on End-of-Life Option Bill

Senators Bill Monning, Lois Wolk Craft Legislation to Authorize Aid in Dying for Terminally Ill Adults in Golden State 

(Sacramento, CA – Jan. 21, 2015) Just a few months after 29-year-old Californian Brittany Maynard had to utilize an Oregon law to end her suffering from terminal brain cancer, two California senators today announced they have authored similar legislation in California. Brittany Maynard’s mother and husband, Compassion & Choices, and a diverse array of supporters praised the introduction of the bill, “The End-of-Life Options Act” (SB 128), at a 1:30 p.m. PT news conference at the state Capitol.

Watch the emotional press conference by clicking here.

“The time is right for California to advance the conversation about end-of-life options,” said Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning, who coauthored the bill with Senator Majority Whip Lois Wolk.  “We are working together to establish a process that honors a  patient’s right to make informed decisions about dying and respects the individual’s beliefs after receiving a terminal prognosis.  We will continue to meet with parties interested in this issue, and are committed to an open and inclusive dialogue as the legislation moves forward.”

Maynard — who suffered debilitating, painful seizures caused by her terminal brain cancer — had to move to Oregon so she could access its death-with-dignity law because California does not authorize this end-of-life option. It gives terminally ill, mentally competent adults the option to request a prescription for aid-in-dying medication that they can choose to take if their suffering becomes unbearable.

California voters support the medical option of aid in dying by more than a 2-1 margin (64% vs. 24%). Yet, two decades after Oregon voters passed the nation’s first death-with-dignity law in 1994, California still has not authorized this end-of-life option.

“Support for this law runs across all demographic categories, from every ethnic, religious and economic background,” said Senate Majority Whip Wolk. “It is not a partisan issue.  It is about the most personal freedom there is and guaranteeing terminally ill Californians will have a right to exercise this option if they believe it is right for them.”

In the final weeks of her life, Maynard partnered with Compassion & Choices to launch a campaign on www.TheBrittanyFund.org to make aid in dying an open and accessible medical practice in her home state and throughout the country.

“It is unacceptable that Brittany Maynard had to leave her home, her family, her dogs, her medical team in order to die peacefully, in comfort and in control,” said Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera, a board member of Compassion & Choices, which supports the California bill. “The Lord does not want his children to suffer.”

Debbie Ziegler spoke about her mission to keep her only daughter’s legacy alive.

“Brittany fought to the end for expanded availability of end-of-life options in California,” she said. “I will make my daughter, Brittany, proud by standing up and telling her story even if my voice shakes. Even if I choke back tears. I hope that no other Californian has to go through what Brittany did.”

“Having aid in dying as an end-of-life option provided great relief to Brittany,” said Dan Diaz, Brittany’s husband. “It enabled my wife to focus on living her last days to

the fullest, rather than having to worry about dying in agony from terminal brain cancer. I promised Brittany I would do everything in my power to fulfill her mission to make this end-of-life option available to all Californians.”

Rapid introduction of the bill mirrors the momentum behind similar legislation around the country.

Since Brittany Maynard’s story broke on Oct. 6, lawmakers have introduced similar bills, or pledged to so, in Washington, D.C. and at least 13 states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Brittany’s story also is galvanizing Compassion & Choices campaigns to pass bills authorizing aid in dying in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey and to defend this legally recognized option in Montana, New Mexico and Vermont.

National and state polls consistently show the vast majority of Americans across the demographic and political spectrum want to maintain their right to choose their medical treatment at the end of their life.

The California bill is modeled after legislation in Oregon and other states where aid in dying has been proven to be good policy and medical practice.

  • It allows only qualified, terminally ill and mentally competent adults to request and obtain a prescription from their physician for medication that the patient can self-administer to bring about a peaceful and humane death.  Two physicians must confirm the prognosis is terminal.
  • It requires two witnesses to attest that the request is voluntary.
  • It protects physicians from civil or criminal liability, and from professional disciplinary action, if they fulfill an eligible  individual’s request. Participation by doctors is fully voluntary.
  • It provides safeguards against any coercion of patients: It establishes felony penalties for coercing or forging a request; and it honors a patient’s right to rescind the request.

Besides Oregon, aid in dying is authorized in Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.

Atty. Gen.’s home town newspaper criticizes Mancini prosecution, urges legislature to change end-of-life law

Pa. Atty. Gen. Kathleen Kane’s home town newspaper, The [Scranton] Times-Tribune, and its sister paper, The [Towanda] Daily Review, editorialized today that the state legislature should revisit the state’s end-of-life law as a result of Kane’s unjust prosecution of Philadelphia nurse Barbara Mancini for aiding suicide in the death of her terminally ill, 93-year-old father Joe Yourshaw.

The editorial must be a bitter pill for Kane to swallow since it criticized her for bringing the case and her statement about why she would not appeal a judge’s dismissal of the case:

“Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane attempted to cling to a rationale for her office’s wayward criminal prosecution of Barbara Mancini for alleged complicity in the supposed attempted suicide of her terminally ill father …

According to Ms. Kane, in a statement announcing the decision not to seek an appeal of the dismissal, Judge Russell had deemed inadmissible, as a matter of procedure, an incriminating statement by Mrs. Mancini that she had handed the drug to her father to fulfill his wish to die. More

NY Times: Easing Terminal Patients’ Path to Death, Legally

By ERIK ECKHOLM – FEB. 7, 2014

DENVER — Helping the terminally ill end their lives, condemned for decades as immoral, is gaining traction. Banned everywhere but Oregon until 2008, it is now legal in five states. Its advocates, who have learned to shun the term “assisted suicide,” believe that as baby boomers watch frail parents suffer, support for what they call the “aid-in-dying” movement will grow further.

In January, the New Mexico Supreme Court authorized doctors to provide lethal prescriptions and declared a constitutional right for “a competent, terminally ill patient to choose aid in dying.” Last May, the Vermont Legislature passed a law permitting it, joining Montana, Oregon and Washington. This spring, advocates are strongly promoting “death with dignity” bills in Connecticut and other states.

Public support for assisted dying has grown in the past half century but depends on terminology. In a Gallup Poll conducted in May last year, for example, 70 percent of respondents agreed that when patients and their families wanted it, doctors should be allowed to “end the patient’s life by some painless means.” In 1948, that share was 37 percent, and it rose steadily for four decades but has remained roughly stable since the mid-1990s.

To read the rest of the article, follow this link to the New York Times.


Advocates Lobby For Aid In Dying Legislation in Connecticut

by Hugh McQuaid | CT News Junkie | Jan 29, 2014


Portraits of “aid-in-dying” supporters will be displayed in the State Capitol for two weeks beginning Friday as part of this year’s push for legislation to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives.

Advocates of the proposal announced the new campaign to legalize the practice at a Wednesday morning press conference in the Legislative Office Building.

The photos will hang along the State Capitol concourse from Jan. 31 to Feb. 14 and feature advocates seeking legislation to permit terminally ill patients in Connecticut to end their lives with the help of a doctor. Each picture also will include a quote like “Quality of life includes peaceful death.”

Permitting a doctor to prescribe drugs to end the life of a terminally ill and mentally competent patient is legal in only a handful of states. Vermont, Oregon, Washington, and Montana all have laws permitting the practice. A court decision from earlier this month could make New Mexico the fifth state in which it is legal.

A group called Compassion and Choices Connecticut is hoping build on an effort that began in this state last year and see a bill raised during the legislative session that begins next week.

Rep. Betsy Ritter, D-Waterford, and other lawmakers raised similar proposals last year which resulted in the first public hearing on the topic before Connecticut’s legislature. The hearing was widely attended and drew testimony from residents both for and against the law.

Ultimately the bill was never passed out of the Public Health Committee. Ritter said she’s urged the committee’s leadership to raise the bill again this year but that decision has yet to be made. Ritter and other supporters said it will take time for lawmakers to consider the issue. More