Compassion & Choices holds press conference to announce multi-pronged approach.
Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing and Compassion & Choices filed suit on Wednesday on behalf of a Hawaii resident with terminal cancer, John Radcliffe, and a physician asserting the Hawaii constitution and existing state law allow the practice of medical aid in dying. Medical aid in dying gives mentally competent, terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can take to peacefully end an unbearable dying process peacefully.
In conjunction with filing Radcliffe et al. v. State of Hawaii in the First Circuit Court of Hawaii, Compassion & Choices Hawaii has launched a legislative campaign as the second part of a dual approach to giving Hawaii residents definitive access to medical aid in dying. A bill is nearing final draft and will be announced at the opening of the Legislature on Jan. 18 with broad support from lawmakers.
“We must pursue every path to make medical aid in dying an accessible option for terminally ill adults in Hawaii as soon as possible,” said Compassion & Choices Hawaii Campaign Manager Mary Steiner. “Mr. Radcliffe can’t wait and see whether the courts or the legislature will ultimately resolve this question, but our hope is that this option will be made available to him as soon as possible. By filing litigation now, we have put the process in motion on all fronts.”
Compassion & Choices won a similar suit on behalf of terminally ill patient plaintiff Bob Baxter in Montana in 2009 when the Montana Supreme Court ruled: “… we find no indication in Montana law that physician aid in dying provided to terminally ill, mentally competent adult patients is against public policy.”
About the Plaintiffs
Plaintiff John Radcliffe, attorney Anderson Meyer, pollster Barbara Ankersmit, C&C HI campaign manager Mary Steiner.
John Radcliffe, 74, is a resident of Honolulu, Hawaii. He was diagnosed in June 2014 with incurable colon cancer that has metastasized to his liver. He is currently undergoing his 43rd round of chemotherapy. He has been to the emergency room 15 times and had three extended hospital stays.
Dr. Charles Miller is board certified in internal medicine, medical oncology, and hematology. He served for 30 years in the U.S. Army Medical Department, was chief consultant to the Surgeon General and spent nine years as chief of hematology at Kaiser Medical Center in Honolulu.
Compassion & Choices is the nation’s oldest, largest and most active nonprofit organization committed to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life. Leading the end-of-life choice movement for more than 30 years, we support, educate and advocate. www.CompassionAndChoices.org/hawaii.
Compassion & Choices thanked D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser today for signing theD.C. Death with Dignity Act that would give mentally capable, terminally ill adults the option of medical aid in dying to end unbearable suffering. The D.C. Council approved the bill on Nov. 15 by a veto-proof 11-2 margin.
“We are very grateful to Mayor Bowser and the D.C. Council for honoring their constituents’ wishes by enacting this legislation,” said Donna Smith, D.C. field and legislative manager for Compassion & Choices. “Every terminally ill adult should have the freedom and liberty to make their own decisions about how they want to die in comfort and peace, in consultation with their family, physicians and spiritual leaders.”
After the mayor’s office transmits the bill to Congress, it will have 30 days in session to review it and to pass a resolution preventing the law from being enacted, according to D.C. Legislative Process.The District will become the 7th jurisdiction to authorize this medical practice unless Congress chooses to intervene.
Five of the six African-American Council members supported the legislation after the predominantly African-American D.C. Commission on Aging endorsed it. Two-thirds of D.C. residents (67%) support the end-of-life care option of medical aid in dying, according to a July 2015 Lake Research poll.
“The Mayor has now joined with the overwhelming majority of District residents and members of the D.C. Council to support the Death with Dignity bill,” said bill author Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3). “This is our thoughtful, local choice, and Congress should respect it.”
The bill signing follows the recent enactment of similar laws in Colorado on Nov. 8 and in California in Oct. 2015, showing strong public support across jurisdictions of diverse sizes and demographics across the nation. Medical aid in dying is authorized in four other states with a combined 30+ years of experience with the practice: Oregon (enacted in 1997), Washington (enacted in 2008), Montana (enacted via state Supreme Court ruling in 2009) and Vermont (enacted in 2013).
“I’m doing everything I can to live. But I have advanced ovarian cancer and will die from it,” said D.C. resident Mary Klein, who has incurable ovarian cancer and is featured in a YouTube video about why she supports medical aid in dying (www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZziF0U79jkA&feature=youtu.be). “When I have only a few more months to live, and if I’m in intolerable pain, I’d like the option of taking medication so that I can have a peaceful and dignified death.”
“As an internist and endocrinologist for 45 years, I know the limits of modern medicine,” said Dr. Omega Silva, who has three cancer diagnoses, was the first woman president of the Howard University Medical Alumni Association and is a formerpresident of the American Medical Women’s Association, which supports medical aid in dying. “That’s why I want this end-of-life care option to ensure I do not have to suffer needlessly in my last months, weeks or days of life.”
“My husband, Sean, died in extreme pain from HIV-exacerbated mesothelioma, ready to be done but with no options,” said Michael Kaplan, who has lived with HIV since 1992 and Type 1 diabetes since 1980, and was the husband of late reality-TV star Sean Sasser, an HIV activist. “I urge Congress to allow this bill to become law so others will not be forced to suffer needlessly while waiting for the inevitable.”
Collaboration with the LGBT community is critical to the overall success of end-of-life advocacy throughout the country. If not for the LGBT Caucus in California, there would not be an aid-in-dying law there now. All seven members of the California LGBT Caucus voted for the bill. Three Caucus members were co-sponsors including, at the time, Speaker of the Assembly Toni Atkins and primary sponsor Assemblywoman Susan Eggman.
So many key legislators are members of the LGBT community whether in California, New Jersey or Maryland. The more LGBT legislators there are in a chamber, the better the chances of an aid-in-dying bill becoming law
That’s why we support and attended the Victory Fund’s LGBT International Leaders Conference. The Victory Fund helps to train and steward members of the LGBT community who want to run for public office. At the conference we were able to connect with numerous legislators about aid-in-dying bills in their states and future legislators looking to support and position themselves on our issues. We look forward to closer collaboration between our two organizations. If you are thinking about running, check out some of their trainings. They are a critical element in helping you effect change.
Miguel Carrasquillo y Patricia A. González Portillo, Gerente Nacional De Comunicaciones en Español
Cuando mi amigo Miguel Carrasquillo de 35 años tomó su último aliento en junio, hizo un llamado a los latinos para que aceptaran la ayuda médica para morir y evitar el sufrimiento insoportable que vivió – algo que no estuvo disponible para él.
Miguel se convirtió en el primer defensor latino de la ayuda médica para morir para enfermos terminales, al grabar un video en Inglés y Español, para instar a los legisladores de todo Estados Unidos y sus territorios, incluyendo Illinois y su natal Puerto Rico, para que se autorizaran leyes que permitieran dicha ayuda médica para morir. Miguel era católico, y con orgullo se refería a sí mismo como el “Brittany Maynard latino’.
Han pasado seis meses desde que murió Miguel en Puerto Rico a causa de un tumor cerebral agresivo que le provocó dolores fuertes de cabeza, pérdidas de conocimiento así como descargas eléctricas por todo su cuerpo.
Y el dia de hoy, me da un gran placer anunciar que el 69% de los hispanos de todo el país, apoyan la ayuda médica para morir, según un sondeo nacional realizado por LifeWay Research. Los hispanos es el segundo grupo que más están a favor de este tipo de medidas, sólo por detrás de los blancos (71 %) y por delante de los afroamericanos (53 %).
Dicha encuesta llega dos semanas después de que CNN en Español transmitió una poderosa historia que acreditó a Compassion & Choices por sus avances en el movimiento de ayuda médica para morir en todo Estados Unidos.
Y esta semana, Compassion & Choices lanzó una campaña bilingüe estatal para educar a los enfermos terminales de Colorado, sus familias y proveedores médicos, sobre los beneficios y requisitos de la nueva ley de ayuda médica para morir, la cual se espera entre en vigor a fin de este mes. La campaña es muy parecida a la que lanzamos en California a principios de este año así como en Nueva York el mes pasado.
Nuestra campaña latina continuará, así como nuestros esfuerzos para educar a los latinos, profesionales médicos y organizaciones de salud en todo el país.
El 3 de junio recibí la última llamada de Miguel. Su voz era frágil. Tenía mucho dolor, pero me recordó que mantuviera viva su causa de ayuda médica para morir entre los latinos después de su muerte.
Miguel murió dos días después, pero logró tanto al final de su vida desafiando los tabús que rodean sobre la muerte y por extensión, la ayuda médica al morir- que persisten dentro de nuestra cultura latina. Miguel hizo un llamado a su comunidad, y toda la nación, a hablar abiertamente con sus médicos sobre el tipo de cuidado que desean para el final de la vida.
Me pregunto si los resultados de la encuesta nacional de esta semana tuvieron algo que ver con el apoyo de Miguel.
Miguel Carrasquillo and C&C National Latino Communications Manager Patricia A. González-Portillo
As my 35-year-old friend Miguel Carrasquillo took his last breath in June, he urged fellow Latinos to embrace the option of medical aid in dying to prevent the unbearable suffering that he experienced because it was not available to him.
Miguel became Compassion & Choices’ first terminally ill Latino advocate for medical aid in dying when he recorded videos in English and in Spanish to urge legislators in his native Puerto Rico and his former home states of Illinois and New York to pass medical aid-in-dying legislation. A Catholic, Miguel proudly referred to himself as the “Latino Brittany Maynard.”
Six months have passed since Miguel died in Puerto Rico from an aggressive brain tumor that caused severe headaches, blackouts and electric shocks throughout his body.
This week, Compassion & Choices launched a statewide bilingual campaign in Colorado to educate terminally ill Coloradans, families and medical providers about the benefits and requirements of the state’s new medical aid-in-dying law that is expected to take effect later this month. The campaign mirrors one we launched in California earlier this year and in New York last month.
Our outreach to Latinos will continue, as will our efforts to educate Hispanics, medical professionals and healthcare organizations throughout the country.
On June 3, I received Miguel’s last call. His voice was frail. He was in so much pain, but he reminded me to keep the medical aid-in-dying issue alive among Latinos after he was gone.
Miguel died two days later, but he accomplished so much at the end of his life by challenging taboos surrounding death — and by extension, medical aid in dying — that persist within the Latino culture. He urged his community, and the entire nation, to speak openly to their doctors about the kind of care they want at the end of life.
I wonder whether the results of this week’s national survey had anything to do with Miguel’s support.
Compassion & Choices lanzó hoy una campaña estatal bilingüe para educar a los residentes de Colorado con enfermedades terminales, sus familiares y proveedores de salud, sobre los beneficios y requisitos de la nueva ley de muerte asistida que se espera entre en vigor este mes.
Los 30 puntos de margen de victoria que obtuvo la Proposición 106 en Colorado, demuestran un fuerte apoyo público a la opción de ayuda médica para morir en prácticamente todos los grupos demográficos del estado. Tanto hombres como mujeres, hispanos y blancos y personas con o sin títulos universitarios dijeron respaldar la propuesta, de acuerdo con una encuesta realizada por Associated Press (Prensa Asociada) y las redes de televisión en Colorado. A nivel nacional, el 69% de los hispanos apoya la ayuda médica al morir, según una nueva encuesta realizada por LifeWay Research.
La ley en Colorado permitirá a los adultos con enfermedades terminales con menos de seis meses de vida y en pleno uso de sus facultades mentales, la opción de solicitar una prescripción médica, si ellos lo desean, para poner fin al dolor insoportable y morir pacíficamente en su sueño.
Cuando tome efecto la Propuesta 106 de Colorado, End of Life Options Act (Opciones al Final de Vida), aprobada por los votantes de Colorado, el 18% de la población de Estados Unidos vivirá en uno de seis estados que autorizan este tipo de opción de fin de vida.
“La Campaña de Acceso de Colorado se creó en base a nuestros 19 años de experiencia, que ayuda a implementar las leyes de ayuda médica para morir en los cinco estados que autorizan la muerte asistida”, dijo Kat West, directora nacional de póliza y programas para Compassion & Choices. “Por eso es crítico que los residentes de Colorado empiecen a hablar con sus médicos ahora para saber si los apoyan en caso de ser diagnosticados con una enfermedad terminal y si desean esta opción. Hay personas con enfermedades terminales en este momento que necesitan esta ley, por lo que es urgente que los médicos entiendan esta práctica médica compasiva y que respeten las decisiones de las personas con enfermedades terminales que desean esta opción para la comodidad y tranquilidad que trae”.
Matt Larson, diagnosticado con cáncer cerebral en la primavera del 2015, a la edad de 35 años.
Matt Larson, diagnosticado con cáncer cerebral en la primavera del 2015, a la edad de 35 años.
Matt Larson, abogado de Denver que fue diagnosticado con cáncer cerebral en la primavera del 2015, a la edad de 35 años, dijo que él y su esposa Kelly tienen una sensación de alivio.
“La mayoría de nosotros ha vivido un diagnóstico devastador o conoce a alguien que lo ha vivido. Por eso podemos comprender y sentir empatía por las personas que necesitan tomar decisiones tan personales y difíciles sin la intervención del gobierno, independientemente de una persuasión política”, afirmó Larson. “Son muchas preguntas que uno enfrenta con un diagnóstico como yo lo hice. Como pacientes – aún aquellos que no tienen un diagnóstico terminal – debemos empezar a hablar con nuestros médicos y otros proveedores de salud ahora mismo. Por eso estoy tan agradecido con Compassion & Choices por ayudarnos aquí en Colorado a educar a los residentes, médicos, farmacéuticos y otros para que las personas que tienen que tomar esas decisiones difíciles, lo hagan con la cantidad de información que ellos – y sus familias – desean y necesitan “.
Julie Selsberg no desea que otras personas sean obligadas a vivir la agonía que vivió su padre de ALS.
Julie Selsbergafirmó que no desea que otras personas sean obligadas a vivir la agonía que vivió su padre de ALS antes de que dejara de comer y beber de manera voluntaria para poner fin a su sufrimiento.
“Estamos muy orgullosos de que fue una campaña transparente y verdadera sobre la ayuda médica para morir”, dijo Selsberg, co-peticionaria de la Proposición 106. “Hablamos con los votantes sobre lo que hace la ley de Opciones al Final de la Vida, lo que no hace, quién califica y cómo funciona. Se contestaron preguntas de individuos, reporteros, editores y otros grupos comunitarios que realmente querían estar seguros de que esto era lo correcto para nuestro estado. Y lo es. Una mayoría abrumadora – el 65% – entiende las provisiones de la ley de Opciones al Final de la Vida y apoya el derecho de los pacientes, con sus médicos y sus familias, a tomar esas decisiones personales de fin de vida “.
Como parte de la Campaña de Acceso de Colorado, Compassion & Choices brindará educación y ayuda técnica para los médicos, proveedores de salud, y adultos con enfermedades terminales, sobre todas las opciones de cuidado de fin de vida para aliviar el sufrimiento intolerable, incluyendo cuidados de hospicio, cuidados paliativos, y la ayuda médica para morir.
La Asociación Médica de Colorado se encuentra entre un grupo de proveedores de salud, hospitales, instalaciones médicas y de cuidados de fin de vida, así como organizaciones no lucrativas, que trabajan con Compassion & Choices para asegurar que todos los residentes de Colorado comprendan que la ayuda médica para morir es una opción de fin de vida legítima y confiable.
“Es muy importante que los médicos entiendan cómo responder a la petición de una persona con una enfermedad terminal que pida la ayuda médica para morir”, dijo el Dr. David Grube, director médico nacional de Compassion & Choices, quien ha escrito prescripciones médicas autorizadas por la ley de Muerte con Dignidad de Oregón. “La respuesta del médico deberá incluir una evaluación de la capacidad mental del paciente para hacer una decisión informada, revisando tratamientos previos del paciente y ofrecerle alternativas de muerte asistida médica, así como cuidados terminales de hospicio y cuidados paliativos”.
Las personas de Colorado con enfermedades terminales, sus familiares, médicos y farmacéuticos pueden obtener información bilingüe sobre la ley al visitar:
compassionandchoices.org/colorado o al mandar un correo electronico a [email protected]. Los médicos podrán tener acceso gratuito al programa de consulta de Compassion & Choices Doc2Doc para hablar con doctores que tienen años de experiencia en cuidados de fin de vida, incluyendo la ayuda médica para morir. Los farmacéuticos también podrán tener acceso al programa de consulta Pharmacist2Pharmacist.
No hay ninguna evidencia de abuso en los cinco otros estados autorizados que cuentan con más de 30 años colectivos de experiencia en esta práctica médica: Oregón (desde 1998), Washington (desde 2009), Montana (desde 2010), Vermont (desde 2013) y California (desde junio 2016). El Distrito de Columbia está a punto de convertirse en la séptima jurisdicción de los Estados Unidos donde la ayuda médica para morir está autorizada para los adultos con enfermedades terminales después de que el Consejo de D.C. aprobó la ley Muerte con Dignidad, con un margen a prueba de veto de 11-2.
Los defensores de la ayuda médica para morir como Brittany Maynard, quien murió el 1 de noviembre del 2014 tras mudarse de California a Oregón para utilizar su ley de Muerte con Dignidad, inspiró a que se autorizara esta ley en California, D.C. y Colorado, lo cual incitó a legisladores de 18 estados a que presentaran proyectos de ley similares. Durante el año pasado, varios residentes de Colorado como Julie y Matt, expusieron sus historias para ayudar a ilustrar la importancia de las opciones de fin de vida.
Compassion & Choices today launched a statewide, bilingual campaign to educate terminally ill Coloradans, families and medical providers about the benefits and requirements of the state’s new medical aid-in-dying law that is expected to take effect later this month.
The Colorado law will give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication that they can decide to take to end unbearable suffering by dying peacefully in their sleep.
When the voter approved Prop. 106, Colorado End-of-Life Options Act, takes effect, 18% of the U.S. population will live in one of six states that authorize this end-of-life care option.
“The Colorado Access Campaign is built on our nineteen years of experience helping to implement medical aid in dying laws in the five other states that have authorized medical aid in dying,” said Kat West, National Director of Policy & Programs for Compassion & Choices. “That’s why it is critical for Coloradans to start talking to their doctors today to find out if their doctors will support them if they were diagnosed with a terminal illness and want this option. There are terminally ill people right now who need this law, so it is urgent for doctors to understand this compassionate medical practice and respect the decisions of terminally ill individuals who want this option for the comfort and peace of mind it brings.”
“Most of us have either experienced a devastating diagnosis or know someone who has. So understanding why people need to make deeply personal, difficult decisions without government involvement is something we can all empathize with, regardless of political persuasion,” said Larson. “There are a lot of questions as you face a diagnosis like I did. As patients – even those without a terminal diagnosis – we need to start talking to our doctors and other health care providers now. That is why I am so grateful to Compassion & Choices for helping us here in Colorado educate residents, doctors, pharmacists and others so that people who do have to make those tough decisions, do so with as much information as they – and their families – want and need.”
Julie Selsberg was a co-petitioner of the measure and is working to help with implementation because she does not want
Julie Selsberg and father, Charles Selsberg, who died from ALS.
others to be forced to live through the agony her father endured from ALS before he voluntarily decided to stop eating and drinking to end his suffering.
“We are so proud that this was a campaign about the truth and transparency of medical aid in dying,” said Julie Selsberg, co-petitioner of Proposition 106. “We talked to voters about what the End-of-Life Options Act does, what it doesn’t do, who is eligible and how it works. We answered questions from individuals, reporters, editors and others community groups who really wanted to be sure this was the right thing for our state. And it is. An overwhelming majority – 65% – understand the provisions of the End-of-Life Options Act and support the right for patients, with their doctors and their families, to make those personal end-of-life decisions.”
As part of Colorado’s Access Campaign, Compassion & Choices will provide education and technical assistance to doctors, healthcare providers and terminally ill adults about all the end-of-life care options to relieve intolerable suffering, including hospice, palliative care and medical aid in dying.
The Colorado Hospital Association is among a group of healthcare groups, hospitals, medical and hospice facilities and nonprofit organizations that is working with Compassion & Choices to ensure all Coloradans understand that medical aid in dying is a legitimate and trusted end-of-life care option.
“It is very important for doctors to understand how to respond to a terminally ill person’s request for medical aid in dying,” said Dr. David Grube, a national medical director for Compassion & Choices, who has written aid-in-dying prescriptions authorized by Oregon’s death-with-dignity law. “The doctor’s response should include assessing the patient’s mental capability to make an informed decision, reviewing the patient’s previous treatment, and offering alternatives to medical aid in dying, such as hospice and palliative care.”
Terminally ill Coloradans, their families, physicians and pharmacists can get information about the law by visiting: compassionandchoices.org/colorado or by emailing [email protected]. Information is available in English and Spanish. Physicians will be able to access Compassion & Choices’ free Doc2Doc consultation program to speak to doctors with years of experience in end-of-life care, including medical aid in dying. Pharmacists will also be able to access the Pharmacist2Pharmacist consultation program.
There is no evidence of abuse in the five other authorized states with a collective 30+ years of experience with this medical practice: Oregon (since 1998), Washington (since 2009), Montana (since 2010), Vermont (since 2013) and California (since June 2016). The District of Columbia is poised to become the seventh jurisdiction in the U.S. where medical aid in dying is authorized for terminally ill adults after the D.C Council passed the D.C. Death with Dignity Act by a veto-proof 11-2 margin.
Medical aid-in-dying advocates like Brittany Maynard, who died on Nov. 1, 2014, after moving from California to Oregon to utilize its Death with Dignity Act, inspired California, D.C. and Colorado to pass these laws and prompted lawmakers in 18 other states to introduce similar bills. Throughout the past year, several Coloradans like Julie and Matt have come forward to tell their stories to help illustrate the importance of end-of-life options.
A federal judge has granted a motion by Compassion & Choices, Patient Choices Vermont and two terminally ill Vermonters that allows them to argue in court against a lawsuit brought by religious groups to undermine Vermont’s End-of-Life Choice Act (Act 39). Act 39 gives mentally capable, terminally ill adult residents of Vermont the option to get a doctor’s prescription for medication that they can decide to ingest to end their suffering and die peacefully in their sleep.
The Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare and Tennessee-based Christian Medical and Dental Association filed the suit in July against the State of Vermont. The groups claim both Act 39 and Vermont’s Patient Rights law violate the plaintiffs’ religious rights by requiring doctors to discuss all end-of-life care options with their patients (see complaint posted here).
During the first hearing in the case on Nov. 8, the plaintiffs’ attorneys suggested his physician clients would be willing to “…tell a patient that they can Google assisted suicide on their cell phone and that’s a reasonably available source of information…” (See page 40 of hearing transcript posted here).
“The notion that doctors could fulfill their professional duty to ensure patients can make fully-informed decisions by Googling to learn about their end-of-life care options is the height of irresponsibilitly,” said Linda Waite-Simpson, Vermont state director for Compassion & Choices. “It would be tantamount to doctors abandoning their patients at the most vulnerable time of their lives, especially given the danger of them Googling — and relying upon — fake news posted online.”
In granting the motion to allow Compassion & Choices and Patient Choices Vermont to intervene in the case, U.S. District Court Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford wrote: “As people potentially eligible for consideration under Act 39, both individual [patient] intervenors have strong personal reasons for resisting the type of silence or boycott which Plaintiffs seek to preserve for themselves on an issue of patient choice … the intervenor organizations [Compassion & Choices and Patient Choices Vermont] appear to have considerable experience in the field. The court welcomes their advice and expertise…” (see pages 4-5 of intervenor order here).
“The Vermont law respects everyone’s personal beliefs because it allows any person or healthcare professional to refuse to directly participate in medical aid in dying,” said Kevin Díaz, national director of legal advocacy for Compassion & Choices. “But these doctors contend their personal beliefs should trump their patients’ rights when it comes to simply referring them to a healthcare professional to advise them about all their end-of-life care options. It should send shivers down the spine of every patient.”
“This case is about a patient’s right to know what their options are at the end of life,” said Betsy Walkerman, President of Patient Choices Vermont. “Physicians should not impose their personal religious values on their patients by preventing them from receiving information about all of their end-of-life care options.”
On the birthday of perhaps our most recognized advocate, Brittany Maynard, we’d like to honor others who have stood with us and made an indelible mark on this movement. Of course we can’t tell every story in this email, but the following incredible advocates represent the spirit of so many who have supported our mission as they neared death.
Those were 69-year-old Bob Stone’s last words to his loved ones gathered in his Silverlake, California, home in what was a beautiful and intentional celebration of his life. He was the first Kaiser Permanente patient in Los Angeles to obtain a medical aid in dying prescription having entered hospice on June 9, the day the law went into effect. Bob made it a point to get the paperwork done as soon as possible to ensure peace of mind in his final days.
Bob was so pleased with the ease of the process that he graciously allowed the Los Angeles Times to profile his choice to end his life “fully, thankfully and joyfully.”
Naomi Sichler, 33, also from Los Angeles, placed great importance on accessing aid in dying. Although she did not take the medication, it was a relief to know she could if her suffering became too great.
Naomi died peacefully at home surrounded by loved ones. Said her husband, Mike Scott, “Although Naomi chose not to take the aid-in-dying medication, the relief it brought her to know it was an option is something all terminally ill patients should be able to feel.”
Kristy Allen and friend
Kristy Allan of Placerville was one of the earliest to benefit from California’s law and fill a medical aid-in-dying prescription, and she too was willing to discuss her decision, with the New York Times. It’s hard to overstate the importance of advocates like Kristy sharing these most private moments with the world.
Jay Kallio campaigned passionately for medical aid-in-dying legislation in his home state of New York. Racing against the clock and his illness, terminal lung cancer, Jay fought valiantly to be able end his life legally and on his own terms if his suffering became unbearable. Shortly before his death he recorded a video describing the suffering he hoped to avoid.
Sadly for Jay and many others like him, he died in September almost exactly as he describes without the option of medical aid in dying. This is not how Jay wanted things to end, and we pledge to see his work in New York through in the near future.
Also from New York, NYU professor of politics Youssef Cohen died at the age of 68 from mesothelioma. Just before, he recorded this video to share with other New Yorkers.
Jay and Youssef were honored as part of C&C’s Day of the Dead event in New York along with other New Yorkers who died as they fought for medical aid in dying laws.
John Minor was a retired psychologist from Manhattan Beach, California. In John’s final days, he penned a passionate op-ed detailing his personal and professional views on medical aid in dying, and called particular attention to the distinction between the practice and suicide.
John, who was able to obtain and fill his prescription under California’s End of Life Option Act, left his family, who had gathered around a makeshift bed in his favorite room, with these words: “Thanks for letting me sleep up here.”
Reflecting on this statement, John’s daughter Jackie said, “I couldn’t see it at the time, but a friend pointed out that his words were actually symbolic of us supporting him throughout his whole journey and seeing him to the end in the manner he wanted. We will be forever grateful that our dad’s wishes were able to be honored, and it was his hope as well as ours that his story may help to pave the way for those to come who want that ultimate choice as well.” He died with this quote pictured here in his line of sight, and it is both a testament to his struggle in his last days to contribute his insights and expertise to the fight for end-of- life options and a beautiful reminder to us all.
Jim Kinhan was known as “Mr. Jim” to his many fellow New Hampshire residents whose lives he touched as a state legislator and trained clinical social worker.
Three years ago, Jim was diagnosed with terminal colon cancer. Instead of opting for aggressive treatment, Jim sought palliative therapies that afforded him the highest quality of life as he continued pursuing travel, golf and volunteerism. In fact, Jim was able to complete a 100-mile walk across England, and he even played a round of golf the week before he died.
In an incredible turn of events, Jim had the chance to ask then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton how she would advance conversations about end-of-life choice, imparting a thoughtful and compassionate response.
Jim appreciated that reply, and even as his condition worsened, he continued to work closely with New Hampshire lawmakers to introduce aid-in-dying legislation in New Hampshire.
Although Jim could not access medical aid in dying, he died shortly after choosing to voluntarily stop eating and drinking (VSED), with his family gathered beside him singing his favorite song, “What a Wonderful World.”
Thanks in large part to Jim’s efforts, Concord Senator Dan Feltes plans to file legislation next year to advance end-of-life options.
Miguel Carrasquillo, a former chef in Chicago and New York, was diagnosed with an aggressive brain tumor at the young age of 30. Miguel spent years enduring painful procedures to try to cure his cancer. After doctors told him that his condition was terminal, he moved back from his home in Chicago to his native Puerto Rico to spend his final days with his family.
Miguel became Compassion & Choices’ first terminally ill, Latino advocate for medical aid in dying when he recorded videos in English and in Spanish to urge legislators in U.S. states and territories, including his native Puerto Rico, to pass medical aid-in-dying legislation. He proudly referred to himself as the “Latino Brittany Maynard.”
Miguel accomplished so much at the end of his life by challenging taboos surrounding death — and by extension, medical aid in dying — that persist within the Latino culture. He urged his community, and the entire nation, to speak openly to their doctors about the kind of care they want at the end of life.
Miguel died on June 5 in Puerto Rico. He was only 35 years old.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about these amazing late advocates. Hopefully they will serve to inspire your advocacy the way they inspire the work we do at C&C each and every day. This is a movement about helping people — real people like the ones you just read about.
If you have a personal experience dealing with terminal illness or end-of-life advocacy work, please share it with us. You never know which story will be the next to shape the movement. Click here to tell your story today.
The following media advisory was released by D.C. Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office on November 16.
Norton to Defend D.C.’s ‘Death with Dignity Act’ from Congressional Interference
Calls on Congress to Respect D.C. Autonomy
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) announced today that she will vigorously defend the District of Columbia’s medical aid-in-dying bill, the Death with Dignity Act, from congressional interference. Organizations for and against the bill have announced their intention to lobby Congress on it.
“I have always defended, and am obligated to defend, every duly enacted bill of the District of Columbia from congressional interference,” Norton said. “The same should hold in Congress, regardless of Members’ personal or political views on non-federal matters decided by local jurisdictions. D.C. residents have spoken through their elected local representatives on this issue, and, in a democracy, unaccountable members of Congress must not impose their views on a local jurisdiction. I understand the deep passions this issue raises, as we saw during the deliberations of this bill in the D.C. Council.”
Medical aid in dying is already legal in six states. According to the Gallup, a majority of Americans (69% in 2016) have supported medical aid in dying since 1973.
The D.C. bill, which is modeled on the laws in states that have legalized medical aid in dying, allows a doctor to write a prescription for a lethal dose of medication to a D.C. resident who is competent, over the age of 18 and has a terminal illness and six months or less to live. The bill includes numerous safeguards, including requiring two physicians to confirm the diagnosis, the patient to make two oral requests for the medication, separated by at least 15 days, and a written request 48 hours before the medication can be prescribed, and the patient to self-administer the medication.