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Tag Archive: Aid in Dying

  1. Massachusetts Law Allows Doctors to Offer Medical Aid in Dying, Suit Asserts

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    Dr. Roger Kligler

    Dr. Roger Kligler

    (Suffolk, Mass. – Oct. 26, 2016) Compassion & Choices has filed suit in Massachusetts Superior Court on behalf of two Barnstable County doctors asserting current state law allows physicians to offer terminally ill, mentally capable adults the option of medical aid in dying. Compassion & Choices won a similar suit in 2009 when the Montana Supreme Court ruled in Baxter v. Montana that: “… we find no indication in Montana law that physician aid in dying provided to terminally ill, mentally capable adult patients is against public policy.”

    “In Massachusetts, there is no law that specifically prohibits providing medical aid in dying. Criminal prosecution against physicians who provide medical aid in dying violates our plaintiffs’ privacy rights under the Massachusetts Constitution,” said Kevin Díaz, national director of legal advocacy for Compassion & Choices.It interferes with a person’s basic autonomy in deciding how to confront their own mortality and choose their own destiny.”

    “Massachusetts courts recognize a fundamental right of citizens to make end-of-life care decisions, including the right to refuse life-sustaining treatment or nutrition,” said John Kappos, a partner in the law firm of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, which worked with the Boston-based law firm Morgan Lewis to help Compassion & Choices file the suit. “There is no rational or meaningful basis to distinguish between withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment to a terminally ill person and a physician providing the alternative end-of-life care option of medical aid in dying.”

    The physician plaintiffs seek a declaration that medical aid in dying is not a crime under Massachusetts law. They also seek an injunction prohibiting the defendants, Attorney General Maura Healey and Cape & Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe, from prosecuting physicians who provide medical aid in dying, because they assert such prosecution is unlawful and unconstitutional. The complaint is posted at: www.compassionandchoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/10.24.16-Massachusetts-Complaint.pdf.

    “Having a prescription for aid-in-dying medication that I could self-administer if my suffering became too great in the final days would provide great comfort to me,” said physician plaintiff Roger M. Kligler, M.D., a resident of Falmouth, who was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic castrate-resistant prostate cancer. “It would alleviate my anxiety about the dying process and allow me to live my final days more fully confident that I would not have to suffer needlessly.”

    Since Dr. Kligler’s medical conditions are worsening, plaintiffs will seek preferential treatment for expedited court scheduling.

    “It’s unfair that Massachusetts physicians fear prosecution for offering or even discussing medical aid in dying with their terminally ill patients who want this end-of-life care option. It may make these patients feel abandoned,” said physician plaintiff Alan Steinbach, M.D., a resident of Woods Hole, who treats patients in both urgent care and as a primary care doctor. “The limit on physicians’ ability to provide patients with information on available end-of-life care options hinders our ability to provide them with full and complete information. They need this information to give us informed consent for their subsequent medical treatment.”

    “Massachusetts law permits its terminally ill, mentally capable adults to request and receive medical aid and advice to shorten an unbearable dying process by withdrawing life-sustaining treatment, including nutrition and hydration,” said Kappos. “These are active steps medical professionals take to shorten an unbearable dying process and prevent prolonged pain. Yet terminally ill, mentally capable adults who cannot avoid suffering in this way would be prevented from similarly receiving affirmative medical aid if medical aid in dying is not permitted.”

    Seven out of 10 Massachusetts voters (71%), including a majority of Catholics (64%), Republicans (61%) and disabled voters (74%), support medical aid in dying, according to a Feb. 2014 Purple Strategies survey.

    A fall 2014 Medscape online survey of 17,000 U.S. doctors representing 28 medical specialties said they agreed by a 23-percent margin (54% vs. 31%) that: “I believe terminal illnesses such as metastatic cancers or degenerative neurological diseases rob a human of his/her dignity. Provided there is no shred of doubt that the disease is incurable and terminal, I would support a patient’s decision to end their life, and I would also wish the same option was available in my case should the need arise.”

    A growing number of national organizations representing healthcare professionals have endorsed or taken a neutral position on medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option for terminally ill, mentally capable adults. They include the American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine, American Academy of Legal Medicine, American Medical Student Association, American Public Health Association and American Medical Women’s Association.

    Medical aid in dying is currently authorized in six states, with a combined 30+ years of experience with this end-of-life option: Oregon, Washington, Montana, Vermont, California and Colorado. There is not a single documented case of abuse or coercion involving the practice of medical aid in dying in these states.

     

     

  2. Nadie debe morir en agonía como lo hizo mi hijo Miguel

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    Click here to read this piece in El Diario. Este articulo originalmente fue publicado en el Diario 10/18/16.

    Mi hijo Miguel Carrasquillo soportó una muerte agonizante debido a un cáncer cerebral. Él vivió los últimos meses de su vida abogando valientemente por leyes que autoricen la ayuda médica para morir como una opción para adultos con enfermedades terminales.

    Esta semana se cumplen cinco meses de la muerte dolorosa de Miguelito, pero estoy llevando la promesa que le hice mientras tomaba su último aliento: ser parte del movimiento para convertir en realidad la ayuda médica para morir.

    Miguel vivió en la ciudad de Nueva York meses antes de ser diagnosticado con un glioblastoma multiforme, un tumor cerebral agresivo y mortal. A pesar de soportar los tratamientos agonizantes y dolorosos para tratar de curar el cáncer cerebral, se le esparció al hígado, el estómago, los testículos y otros órganos vitales.

    Mi hijo era un alma vieja con una sonrisa contagiosa, que sobresalió por su habilidad de luchar por el cambio, aún y cuando agonizando por el cáncer. Miguel tenía solo 35 años cuando el tumor cerebral agresivo le quitó la vida el 5 de junio, justo unos días antes de que entrara en vigor en California el End of Life Option Act (Opción al Final de la Vida).

    Durante los últimos meses de su vida, Miguel me habló sobre su deseo de morir de manera pacífica tomando su último agarrado de mi mano, en su departamento modesto que rentaba a unas 30 millas de nuestro querido San Juan.

    Debo confesar que cuando Miguel me dijo por primera vez que estaba considerando la ayuda médica para morir, dije ‘No”. Sin embargo, al ver a mi hijo sufrir, comprendí que nuestro Señor Jesucristo no tenía deseaba de que mi hijo, SU hijo, sufriera innecesariamente.

    Como resultado, ahora creo que las personas que se están muriendo deben tener la opción de la ayuda médica para morir en paz y sin dolor.

    Estoy orgullosa al decir que Miguel se convirtió para Compassion & Choices en el primer latino con una enfermedad terminal y defensor de la ayuda médica para morir. De inmediato grabó videos en inglés y en español pidiendo a los legisladores de los Estados Unidos y territorios, que aprobaran leyes de muerte médica asistida. Miguel se convirtió en la voz para los latinos, una comunidad que tanto amó y por la cual luchó hasta su último aliento.

    Miguelito hablaba con orgullo mientras se refería a sí mismo como el “Brittany Maynard Latino.” Maynard también fue una mujer joven con una enfermedad terminal de cáncer cerebral, y como defensora de la causa, inspiró a California para que se aprobara la ley de muerte médica asistida. Brittany tuvo que mudarse desde su hogar en California, hacia el estado de Oregón en el 2014 para obtener acceso a la ley de Muerte con Dignidad. Ella tenía 29 años.

    “Yo no tengo los recursos que Brittany tuvo de mudarse a un estado como California”, dijo Miguel. “Tengo que vivir y morir con este dolor terrible, con convulsiones y shocks eléctricos (en todo mi cuerpo)”.

    Mi hijo no fue un pecador por querer morir en paz rodeado de sus seres queridos.

    Simplemente quería terminar su sufrimiento, no por desesperación o depresión, sino para mantener algo de confort en los últimos días de su vida.

    Me sostuve fuerte mientras Miguel terminaba una entrevista con el periodista Jorge Ramos de Univisión, solo 10 días antes de su muerte. Ramos acortó la entrevista cuando notó a un Miguel adormilado y confundido ante la pantalla del televisor.

    “Esta ha sido una de las entrevistas más difíciles que he tenido que hacer”, Ramos escribió en su cuenta de Twitter unos días después.

    Cuando la entrevista terminó y el equipo de video se retiró, Miguel tomó mi brazo como normalmente lo hacía, para evitar una caída y me guio a su amada pecera que decoraba su departamento.

    La voz de mi hijo era frágil y balbuceaba sus palabras. Sin embargo, logró milagrosamente grabar su video a través de su celular en inglés y español donde suplicaba a los legisladores y a la gente que siguieran luchando por leyes de ayuda médica para morir.

    Miguel murió 10 días después de grabar el video sin la ayuda médica por la que tanto luchó.

    Su voz ha apagado, pero la mía no.

    -Nilsa Centeno es madre soltera, secretaria de oficio y radica en Cidra, Puerto Rico.

  3. No One Should Die in Agony as My Son Did

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    Click here to read this piece in Spanish. This op-ed was originally published in El Diario on 10/18/16.

    My son Miguel Carrasquillo endured an agonizing death from brain cancer in June. He spent his last months of life bravely advocating for laws to authorize medical aid in dying as an option for terminally ill adults.

    Five months have passed since Miguelito’s painful death, but I am carrying on the promise I made to him as he took his last breath: to be part of the growing movement to make medical aid in dying a legal option for all Americans.

    Miguel

    Miguel lived in New York City for several years prior to being diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive, deadly brain tumor, in 2012. Despite bravely enduring excruciatingly painful treatments to try to cure his cancer, it spread to his liver, stomach, testicles and other vital organs.

    My son was an old soul with a contagious smile who stood out in his ability to advocate for change, even while in agony. Miguel was only 35 years old when the aggressive brain tumor took his life on June 5, only days before the End of Life Option Act went into effect in California.

    End-of-Life Options

    During the last months of his life, Miguel spoke to me about his desire to peacefully end his suffering so he could take his last breath holding my hand in the modest home he rented about 30 miles from our beloved San Juan.

    I must confess that when Miguel first let me know he was considering medical aid in dying, I emphatically said “No.” But as I watched my son suffer, I came to believe our Lord Jesus Christ had no desire for my child, His child, to suffer needlessly.

    As a result, I now believe that people who are dying should have the option of medical aid in dying so that they can pass peacefully without pain if all other options fail to relieve suffering.

    Latino Brittany Maynard

    I am proud to say Miguel became Compassion & Choices’ first terminally ill Latino advocate. He immediately recorded videos in English and in Spanish urging legislators in U.S. states and territories to pass aid-in-dying bills. Miguel became a voice for Latinos, a community he loved and fought for until his last breath.

    Miguelito spoke with pride as he referred to himself as the “Latino Brittany Maynard.” Maynard also was a young, terminally ill person with brain cancer, whose advocacy inspired California to pass aid-in-dying legislation after she moved from her home there to Oregon in 2014 to utilize its death-with-dignity law at age 29.

    “I don’t have the resources that Brittany had to move to a state like California,” Miguel said. “I have to live and die with this horrible pain, seizures and electric shocks all over my body.”

    Family

    My son was not a sinner for wanting to die peacefully surrounded by his loved ones.

    He simply hoped to end his suffering, not out of despair or depression, but to maintain some comfort in his final days so that he could pass peacefully.

    Miguel’s Last Wish

    I stood strong as Miguel completed an interview with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos just 10 days before his death. To his credit, Ramos cut the interview short when he noticed a sleepy and confused Miguel on the screen. “This is one of the most difficult interviews I have had to do.” Ramos posted on Twitter a few days later.

    When the interview ended and the video team left, Miguel held my arm, as he normally did to avoid a fall as he guided me to his beloved fish tank that adorned his apartment.

    We spoke about God and fear about his impending death.

    My son’s voice was frail, and his words were mumbled. Yet he miraculously managed to record this cell phone video in English and Spanish to urge people to keep fighting for his legacy.

    Miguel died 10 days after the video, without the end-of-life option he fought for.

    Although his voice has gone silent, mine has not.

    Nilsa Centeno is a single mother and secretary who lives in Cidra, Puerto Rico.

  4. Washington Post: Majority of D.C. Council Supports Death with Dignity Act

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    “The nation’s capital would be the sixth jurisdiction to authorize the long-controversial practice that has gained increasing acceptance among elected officials and the public,” The Washington Post reported after the council’s Committee of the Whole approved the bill on Oct. 18. “Eight members — a majority of the 13-member council — have expressed support for the legislation.”

    The D.C. Council is tentatively scheduled to vote on the D.C. Death with Dignity Act on Nov. 1.

    The Post noted the unique historical significance and legislative path to authorize medical in dying in the district.

    “Council member LaRuby May (D-Ward 8), a supporter of the legislation, has said constituents from her poor and predominantly black district deserve the same health care and end-of-life options as people living on the West Coast …

    “Advocates are hoping that passage in the District will allow them to break through a racial barrier in their national campaign. To date, physician-assisted death has been authorized in Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont — states with mostly white populations. In June, a right-to-death law took effect in California, despite opposition from Latinos and Catholics.

    “But even if the council and mayor approve the legislation, Congress has the power to review and strike down D.C. laws — which could turn the emotionally charged issue into a broader political fight. A spokeswoman for House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) did not return requests for comment.”

    You can read the full story by clicking here.

  5. New Jersey Assembly Approves Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act

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    The New Jersey State Assembly today approved the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Act (A2451), which would make medical aid in dying an option for terminally ill residents. The bipartisan 41-28 vote advances the bill to the state Senate.

    The bill would allow a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with fewer than six months to live the option to request a prescription for life-ending medication that can be self-administered – if and when the individual chooses – to end unbearable suffering and bring about a peaceful and humane death.

    A 2015 Rutgers Eagleton poll shows that by more than a 2-1 margin (63% to 29%) New Jersey residents support an aid-in-dying bill that “would allow terminally ill patients to obtain a prescription to end their lives.”

    “Again and again, the people of New Jersey have indicated that they stand firmly behind providing their terminally ill neighbors with a humane, medical option to reduce unbearable suffering as the end draws near,” said Ethan Andersen, field organizer for Compassion & Choices. “We are gratified that the members of the Assembly heard our voices, and have helped this bill move one step closer to becoming law.”

    The bill’s journey to a full Assembly vote, which included its passage through the Assembly Appropriations Committee on Oct. 6, adds to the building momentum behind similar legislation around the country. Earlier this month, a Washington D.C. Council panel advanced a similar bill in the nation’s capital, and an initiative that would authorize aid in dying is currently the most popular measure on the Colorado ballot this November. California, Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont have already authorized medical aid in dying for terminally ill residents.

    “Today’s vote brought my sister and I one step closer to our ultimate goal – obtaining and exercising our right to die with dignity,” said Laurie Wilcox, a retired nurse from Clark, N.J. Laurie and her sister, Melissa Wilcox, suffer from small cell lung cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, respectively.

    “We will continue to treasure the time we have left while hoping that our elected officials in both the Senate and governor’s office will choose to provide us with the end-of-life choices we deserve.”

     

  6. Hispanic Public Relations Assoc. Honors Compassion & Choices’ Latino Media Campaign

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    The Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) awarded Compassion & Choices its 2016 ¡Bravo! Awards for Non-Profit Campaign of the Year” and “Public Education Campaign of the Year” for its Latino media outreach campaign that helped pass California’s historic End of Life Option Act.

    Signed into law last year, the End of Life Option Act took effect in June. It allows terminally ill adults to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to die peacefully if their suffering becomes unbearable.

    Support for the End of Life Option Act among California Latinos (70%), who are predominantly Catholic, was 10 points higher than among California Catholics as a whole (60%), according to a poll conducted in June 2015 by Goodwin Simon Strategic Research and Probolsky Research. In addition, support for the law among Latinos rose to at least 75 percent according to a poll conducted in August 2015 by the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.

    The HPRA National ¡Bravo! Awards are the most prestigious awards in Hispanic communications, recognizing the industry’s finest public relations and marketing campaigns from across the country. The winners were announced Wednesday night during a ceremony at the Lotte New York Palace Hotel in New York City.

    “Congratulations to Compassion & Choices and all the winners for contributing superb work to the Hispanic public relations industry,” said Antonio Hernandez, president of HPRA’s national board. “As we continue to advance the practice of Hispanic public relations, we are proud of providing a platform to recognize and celebrate Latinos’ achievements in this hyper-competitive profession.”

    “We were able to educate, mobilize and engage Latino voters and California policymakers about medical aid in dying,” said Toni Broaddus, former California campaign director for Compassion & Choices, who is now acting national director of political affairs and advocacy for Compassion & Choices. “Our Latino communications media strategy heavily influenced the passage of California’s End of Life Option Act. Six previous attempts over more than two decades to pass similar legislation had failed.”

    As communications director for Compassion & Choices’ California campaign, Patricia A. González-Portillo, a former journalist for La Opinión, The [Riverside, CA] Press-Enterprise and The Brownsville [Texas] Herald, launched an innovative Latino media campaign. The objectives were to educate Latino voters and policymakers about medical aid in dying, publicize compelling stories to encourage them to become engaged in the issue, and persuade them to support a law authorizing this end-of-life option.

    Compassion & Choices (C&C) recruited Dan Diaz, who had relocated from California to Oregon with his terminally ill wife, Brittany Maynard, so she could utilize Oregon’s death-with-dignity law, and publicized the stories of other Latino Californians whose personal experience demonstrated the need for this end-of-life care option. C&C also recruited labor leader and civil rights icon Dolores Huerta; actor, director and activist Edward James Olmos, and telenovela star Mauricio Ochmann.

    Those tactics led to hundreds of online, print, radio and TV news stories in Spanish-language media outlets that exclusively focused on the option of medical aid in dying and endorsements of the End of Life Option Act by various publications, including La Opinión, the nation’s largest Spanish-language newspaper.

    “It is a great honor to receive the nation’s most prestigious awards in Hispanic communications,” said González-Portillo, who is now the national Latino communications manager for Compassion & Choices in its Los Angeles office.

    “I am very excited to expand our Latino efforts nationwide and to continue to provide culturally appropriate material for Spanish speakers,” said González-Portillo, a native Texan born and raised on the U.S.-Mexico border. “All of my colleagues at Compassion & Choices and I are committed to empowering terminally ill Latinos with the tools they need so they can access the end-of-life care options they desire.”

  7. Compassion & Choices Launches Video Ad Campaign to Promote D.C. Death with Dignity Act, Debunk Opponents’ Claims Ahead of Council Vote

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    Advocates for the D.C. Death with Dignity Act have launched an online ad campaign to persuade the legislation’s passage and debunk opponents’ false claims. The ad buy by Compassion & Choices will target DC influencers, elected officials, their legislative staffs and opinion leaders in advance of the D.C. Council’s vote on the bill that would authorize medical aid in dying.

    The legislation would give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to obtain a doctor’s prescription for medication to bring about their peaceful death and stop unbearable suffering.

    Last Wednesday, the D.C. Council’s Health and Human Services Committee approved the bill authored by Councilmember Mary Cheh (Ward 3). The first of the council’s two votes on the bill is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 18 and the second is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 1.

    “These ads are designed to educate lawmakers and their constituents about why terminally ill adults need this option to end unbearable suffering and to debunk false claims and fears raised by its opponents who want to impose their values on others,” said Charmaine Manansala, political director for Compassion & Choices. “Terminally ill adults in the District want to be free to make their own end-of-life decisions – based on their personal beliefs and values – in consultation with their family and physician.”

    The  ads, highlighting the bill’s safeguards and popularity and featuring a personal appeal to the D.C. Council and Mayor Bowser from  Ward 4 resident and terminal ovarian cancer patient Mary Klein, will run on websites and social media through the vote. The ads are posted at:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZziF0U79jkA&feature=youtu.be and www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1lp2iUJW0M.

    Two out of three (67%) of D.C. residents support the right of terminally ill adults with fewer than six months to live to legally obtain medication to end their lives, according to a July 2015 Lake Research poll.

    A growing number of national organizations representing healthcare professionals have endorsed or taken a neutral position on medical aid in dying as an end-of-life care option for mentally capable, terminally ill adults. They include: the American Academy of Hospice & Palliative Medicine, American Academy of Legal Medicine, American Medical Student Association, American Medical Women’s Association and American Public Health Association.

    Medical aid in dying is currently authorized in five states; the medical practice has a combined 30 years of experience in  Oregon (1998), Washington (2009), Montana (2010), Vermont (2013) and California (June 2016).

  8. DC: D.C. Council to vote on aid in dying

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    We sent the following message to our supporters in Washington, D.C. this week:

    Friend,

    As you may know, this week we achieved a historic victory when the D.C. Council Committee on Health and Human Services voted to advance the Death with Dignity Act to a full Council vote. That means we are closer than ever to authorizing medical aid in dying here in the District. But we still have work to do to ensure that we have the votes to pass the Council.

    For the bill to succeed, it must pass two more votes by the full Council. And we’ll need your help to ensure each Councilmember knows that D.C. residents want the option of medical aid in dying. In the next week, we’re holding two important events, and we’ll need your help to succeed.

    RSVP below for one (or both!) events:

    In preparation for the vote, we’ll be delivering information to Councilmembers’ offices to try to earn their support. Join us to help answer the questions councilmembers asked during lobby day.

    WHAT: Council Literature Drop
    WHERE: John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Lobby
    WHEN: Friday, October 14 at 11:00 a.m.

    Click here to RSVP to help on the 14.

    The Committee of the Whole meeting will take place next Tuesday, October 18. Join us as the Council discusses the Death with Dignity Act and prepares to vote on the measure.

    WHAT: D.C. Council Committee of the Whole Hearing on the Death with Dignity Act
    WHERE: John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Room 500
    WHEN: Tuesday, October 18 at 10:00 a.m.

    RSVP here to join us on the 18.

    We can do this — but not without your help. Please join the fight for expanding end-of-life options in the District today.

    Talk to you soon,

    Donna

    Donna Smith
    DC Legislative and Field Manager

  9. NJ: Aid in Dying Act passes key committee vote

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    We sent the following message to our New Jersey supporters this week:

    Friend,

    I’m writing with great news: yesterday, the New Jersey State Assembly Appropriations Committee passed the Aid in Dying for the Terminally Ill Act in a 8-2 vote! That means that we’re one step closer to making history by authorizing medical aid in dying in the Garden State.

    But our work isn’t anywhere near done: the bill will now go to the full Assembly for a vote and the measure still must pass the senate and be signed by the governor. And though we’re happy with the results of yesterday’s vote, the testimony presented showed that there’s still opposition to this important legislation. We need to be sure the Assembly knows that these voices are a minority and that most of the state wants to expand end-of-life options.

    Click here to use our quick and easy tool to email your assemblymembers and ask them to authorize the option of medical aid in dying in New Jersey.

    Supporters like you are responsible for our success. Our yellow shirts filled the room yesterday, and many volunteers provided moving testimony. Now, we’ll need your help to get over the next hurdle.

    The Assembly could vote as soon as later this month, and it’s crucial that they know that their constituents are supportive of medical aid in dying. We can’t win without your support, and if you want medical aid in dying to be available in New Jersey, now is the time to act.

    It’s up to you: click here to ask the New Jersey State Assembly to pass the Aid in Dying Act.

    Talk to you soon,

    Ethan

    Ethan Andersen
    NJ Field Director

  10. Archbishop Tutu, 85, Records Video Saying He Wants Assisted-Dying Option

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    Nobel Peace Prize Winner Endorses Aid-in-Dying Bills Worldwide

    (Cape Town, South Africa – Oct. 7, 2016) Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, 85, has recorded a video saying he wants the option of assisted dying “when the time comes … to pass” and endorsing bills worldwide to authorize this end-of-life option. The video with both English language and Spanish language subtitles and transcripts is posted at: www.compassionandchoices.org/desmond-tutu/.

    Two years ago, the legendary Christian human rights leader authored an op-ed in The Guardian announcing the reversal of his lifelong opposition to assisted dying as an option for terminally ill adults to stop unbearable end-of-life suffering. But he was more ambiguous about whether he personally wanted the option: “I would say I wouldn’t mind,” wrote the Nobel Peace Prize laureate at the time.

    The new video of Archbishop Tutu, the first black Archbishop of the Anglican Church of South Africa, was recorded in June for Dignity in Dying and Compassion & Choices. The two nonprofit organizations are the leading national advocates for medical aid in dying as an end-of-life option in the United Kingdom and United States, respectively.

    “As a Christian, I believe in the sanctity of life and that death is a part of life. I hope that when the time comes, I am treated with compassion and allowed to pass on to the next phase of life’s journey in the manner of my choice,” says Archbishop Tutu, who turned 85 today and has prostate cancer, in the video.

    The video is timely because Compassion & Choices Action Fund is supporting a citizen-led referendum modeled after the Oregon Death with Dignity Act to authorize medical aid in dying that has qualified for the November ballot in Colorado. The opposition campaign is mainly funded by the Colorado Catholic Conference, including more than $1 million from the Archdiocese of DenverThe Economist recently concluded: “…the groundswell of support for Initiative 145 [now called Prop. 106], and Colorado’s demography, suggest that it stands a good chance of being passed.” Assisted dying for terminally ill adults was authorized in Canada in June 2016.

    “People around the globe, of every religion, recognize Archbishop Tutu’s unquestionable moral authority. His very personal endorsement of medical aid in dying will comfort terminally ill adults suffering in agony worldwide,” said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee, who was an emergency room and intensive care nurse for 25 years before becoming an attorney and co-authoring the 1994 Oregon Death with Dignity Act in the annex of the First Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. “His endorsement is a call to authorize this end-of-life option internationally, as a matter of mercy and compassion.”

    “Archbishop Tutu has fought admirably throughout his life for people to have their fundamental rights. His integrity and commitment to doing the right thing makes his support for assisted dying incredibly powerful. As he makes clear in his latest announcement, the right for terminally ill people to die with dignity in the manner and timing of their choosing should be given attention and respect” added Sarah Wootton, Chief Executive of Dignity in Dying in the United Kingdom. “We urge political and religious leaders around the world to take heed of Archbishop Tutu’s words, namely to ensure that terminally ill people are shown compassion and their choices supported.”

    Aid-in-dying bills are under consideration in the District of Columbia, and New Jersey in the United States. Dignity in Dying has supported legislation for the United Kingdom, which is modeled after the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, and continues to campaign for a change in the law to allow assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally capable adults. While an Assisted Dying Bill was defeated in the UK one year ago, Archbishop Tutu is one of a number of high profile celebrities, doctors and clerics to come out in support of the campaign in the UK during the last four months.

    “My friend, Lord Carey [the retired Archbishop of Canterbury], has passionately argued for an assisted-dying law in the United Kingdom,” Archbishop Tutu says in the video. “His initiative has my blessing and support as do similar initiatives in my home country, South Africa, in the United States, New Zealand and parts of the European Union, and right across the world.”

    “People who are terminally ill should have the option of dignified and compassionate assisted dying, alongside the wonderful palliative care that already exists,” concludes Archbishop Tutu in the video. “I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth with dignity and love.”