Compassion & Choices

Rating: 4.92 stars   13 reviews

Issues: Civil Rights

Location: PO Box 101810 Denver CO 80250 USA

Mission: To improve care and expand choice at the end of life. We support, educate and advocate.
Results: 2009 Milestones On January 1, the Terminal Patients’ Right to Know End-of-Life Options Act, AB 2747 (Berg-Levine) goes into effect in California. Read more about the Terminal Patients’ Right to Know End-of-Life Options Act here. Compassion & Choices calls on the Obama Administration to repeal last-minute regulations allowing denial of medical services based on health care worker religious beliefs. On March 5, Washington’s Death with Dignity Act begins implementation. As the health insurance reform debate heats up in Washington and around the country, Compassion & Choices aggressively responds to mis-information campaign launched by opponents of end-of-life choice to undermine a key provision of health insurance reform. Recent action and statements indicate the end-of-life consultation provision may survive in a final health care bill. Read more about end-of-life choices in health insurance reform here. On October 7, Compassion & Choices Legal Director, Kathryn Tucker, files suit in Connecticut on behalf of two Connecticut physicians, Gary Blick and Ron Levine, asserting that the Connecticut statute which makes a crime of assisting someone to “commit suicide” does not reach the conduct of a physician providing aid in dying. Read more about Blick at al v. Connecticut here. On October 29th, Congressman Earl Blumenauer of Oregon stood with leaders of the House of Representatives as they unveiled House Resolution 3200, Section 1233, the Life Sustaining Treatment Preferences Act of 2009 that would provide coverage under the Medicare Program for consultations regarding POLST. Senator Jay Rockefeller champions end-of-life care in his in his report to the Senate Finance Committee's health care reform legislation. Compassion & Choices continues work to assure end-of-life choice remains a key component of final health insurance reform package. On October 13-14, Compassion & Choices hosts “Dignity & Choices, A Symposium on End-of-Life Advocacy” in Washington, DC. Two days of discussion, exploration and study, Dignity & Choices provides an opportunity to promote principles and practices that focus on patients. Physicians, social workers, nurses, attorneys and advocates for end-of-life choice filled the National Press Club to hear aspects of end-of-life care rarely discussed and illuminate the way forward. Watch video highlights from Dignity & Choices here. On December 31, the Montana Supreme Court ruled in favor of the landmark case brought by Compassion & Choices (Baxter v. Montana) affirming that it is not against public policy of the state of Montana for a physician to provide aid in dying to a mentally competent, terminally ill individual. Read more about Baxter v. Montana here. 2010 Milestones The Older Women’s League (OWL) devotes its 30th anniversary Mother’s Day Report to end-of-life choices and hosts a Capitol Hill policy briefing on the issue. The report features a piece, “Aid in Dying: A Matter of Elder Justice and Civil Rights,” by Kathryn Tucker, Compassion & Choices Director of Legal Affairs. On June 2 Blick et al v. Connecticut is dismissed without reaching the merits, on sovereign immunity grounds, denying plaintiffs the opportunity to make their case to distinguish committing “suicide” from a mentally competent terminally ill patient ingesting medications to bring about a peaceful death. New York passes the Palliative Care Information Act (PCIA) in August. The law, drafted by Compassion & Choices and modeled after a similar measure in CA, requires healthcare workers to provide information and counseling on end-of-life options.. Compassion & Choices files the groundbreaking lawsuit Hargett v. Vitas seeking accountability for the unnecessarily painful death of 43-year-old mother of three, Michelle Hargett-Beebee, who was never informed of the availability of palliative sedation. This is the first case in the nation to allege that failure to tell a patient about palliative sedation falls outside the standard of care. 2011 Milestones Legislative opponents introduced SB 116 in Montana, to nullify the Montana Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Baxter v Montana, a case litigated by Compassion & Choices. The Montana Medical Association testified in official opposition to the measure. On February 16 the Montana Senate Judiciary Committee declined to adopt this measure, preserving the option of aid in dying for Montanans. A bill amending Washington’s Death with Dignity Act, SB 5378, fails to pass out of committee, in response to Compassion & Choices proactive efforts and voter support. SB5378 would have amended the section of DWDA specifying deaths under the Act do not constitute “suicide.” Compassion & Choices launches successful public campaign throughout Oregon to defeat HB 2016, a bill requiring all terminally ill patients who request aid in dying to undergo psychiatric evaluation. The Oregon House HealthCare Committee holds no hearing or work session on HB 2016.
Geographic areas served: Nationwide

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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I learned about this organization when I was looking for a group that deals with my concerns about having a choice about how I might die. I have had many exchanges with the staff , and I have started working with a group in Clearwater FL. I think these issues are extremely important, and I like the thoughtful, caring way this organization approaches them.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

I learned about this organization thru one of its staff--Jared Hughes. As a result of his sincere and knowledgeable presentation of the facts surrounding one's choices over end of life issues, I was blown away and quite overcome with enthusiasm for the mission of this distinguished group. I will never again look at end of life in the way that I did before. Now, when I meet others who are wrestling with similar issues, I point them to your website and repeat what I learned from Jared--with the utmost conviction in my heart. Yours is a vital and critically important organization--I'm so glad that you exist.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

Likely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

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Rating: 5 stars  

I first got involved with Compassion & Choices (then Compassion In Dying) when my mom was ill, about 10 years ago. I was so impressed with the support she received that I decided to volunteer on the local board, where I am now co-chair of the board.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

The support my mom received was incredible! When she was terminally ill, the volunteers came to see her several times, and told her what she could do to control her death. She died a regular death (from her illness) but did so with a sense of dignity.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

None!

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

My first introduction to the board members of Compassion and Choices of Northern California was most impressive. Having served on boards where the sole function was fund-raising and their sole goal was to have good times raising those funds...I immediately knew that C&C was different.
Not only the doctors on the board, but the health professionals and people (like myself) with no letters after their names, were deeply passionate about the cause. Their goal was to actually help people in distress (free of charge) as well as to spread the word that help was available, and one didn't have to die a painful, undignified, horrible death.
I saw that happen with my parents and I realize the unnecessary agony they endured. How wonderful that end-of-life choice is today a reality, and available to so many who would otherwise suffer needlessly.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my own family life, and the lives of friends.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

not make any great changes. We're going in the right directions, and we're working hard to increase public awareness.

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Rating: 5 stars  

I counsel clients of Compassion & Choices. They are self referred to the local chapter. I engage clients to explore their choices for medical care when they know they have only a few months to live. Their legal options include some that are not normally discussed by Hospice or their physician. I join my fellow volunteers on monthly phone conferences where politics, the law, and state and federal legislation is clarified. My only role in the Compassion and Choices organization is to promote autonomy and liberty for personal choices of medical care at the end of life.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have attended the annual training seminars conducted by Compassion and Choices managers to remain up to date on the law: California AB 2747 - the patients' right-to-know act - and other state and federal laws supporting "death with dignity"

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I can't think of any changes, beyond the obvious need for more personal and financial support for its mission to improve death with dignity in America.

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Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

My "honest and candid" experience has been nothing but positive. I'm uncertain exactly how we came in contact with Compassion & Choices. But I am certain it was a great thing that we did. Very few organizations are able to combine on the ground assistance to individuals and families in time of needs with pressing a legislative agenda and on the ground grass roots organizing. Somehow C & C manages all these things, with grace, punch and political savvy. They were helpful to me personally as my father was dying, and have been helpful in providing clear leadership in the step by step process of helping to bring ordinary folks and legislatures to understand the importance of being permitted to die with dignity. Several of my closest friends have gone through drawn out, terminal, end-of-lives. Some were lucky enough to have persons and family to help them make choices and have the ability to carry them out. Others were not so lucky, and suffered pain, indignity, and the misfortune of being trapped in hospitals when all they wished for was to die at home in the company of friends and family and with the comforts of a lifetime of nesting around them. Compassion fights at all levels to help people handle what is perhaps the most difficult time they will face. I give them every star I am permitted to give, and more.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

passage of legislation to protect either physician-assisted suicide for terminal patients, or right-to-know legislation permitting or requiring physicians to inform patients about end of life options.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Try to get a local chapter going in Manhattan; see if death and dying could link to the local CLUs as a civil rights issue, and tap into their existing chapter structure.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

how absolutely committed its members are, yet not the least bit preachy or pushy. How energetic and inclusive they are. How much, in dealing with issues surrounding death, they are full of life.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

all sorts, and from all over the country, yet similarly kind, attentive, and personal, and all the while working hard.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Send volunteers into every state to educate and build strong coalitions, perhaps even strong enough to pass national legislation one day. They could also help broaden the individual educational work they do with families throughout the country.

Ways to make it better...

I had more time to spend with folks when they come to town, and more time to familiar myself with the issues.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

the growth it is experiencing as more and more bills passes, litigation occurs, and members join.

One thing I'd also say is that...

the staff are the most dedicated and well-versed in their subjects that I've met, and I am extremely impressed with the legal committee, and overall leadership. I'd like to see the development of more paid legal staff.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

36 people found this review helpful

When I raise the subject among friends about personal choice in dying, there is broad agreement that they would like to have control of their death. Since my training as a Compassion & Choices volunteer I have had excellent support from the professional team in being informed before visiting a client and throughout the process of supporting the client. I am pleased that Washington State has followed the Oregon model and am hopeful that my state, Florida will begin to see the light.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Training and support as a volunteer.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Professional and peer support

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Compassionate and helpful

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Bring the laws of all 50 states in tune with the majority of the population about choices in their end of life decisions.

Ways to make it better...

I had more clients

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

Religious zealots who fear death

One thing I'd also say is that...

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-3-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I was so pleased to be introduced to this organization who are effectively and efficiently dealing with an issue so dear to my heart. Contributing to this organisation, with both time and money, is one of the most rewarding things in my life. Compassion & Choices are the one organisation that advocates for individual autonomy and dignity through choices at the end of life AND for changes to the law across the country to increase the information and choices available to patients. My grandmother was able to make her own decisions regarding her death from cancer, and she died on her own terms at home with her family around her - it was truly a good death and one I wish everyone could emulate. C&C works to empower patients so that the medical system is more helpful and responsive to the dying. When someone is terminally ill it is an immense comfort to them (and their loved ones) to know that they can make the important decisions about the end of their life.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

defending and implementing the Oregon law and then replicating it in Washington. Developing legislation nation wide to improve end of life care and increase knowledge and choices for dying patients. Helping individuals realize their end of life wishes.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The people, the stories, the power of change.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

Launch a national media campaign to increase awareness of end of life issues and generate a conversation amongst individuals about their choices and a debate across the country about our rights.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-2-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

Thirty five years ago, when my parents were in their 60s, they wrote their first advanced directives. Every time we visited, they spoke passionately about their wishes not to be kept alive after quality of life was gone, nor to have money spent that could be used to help people in need. Now I’m in my 60s and I can see that many people still don’t have the opportunity to die peacefully and in the manner of their choosing. I’m grateful for Compassion & Choices’ commitment to keep this conversation alive until every state provides for end-of-life dignity.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

dedicated and loving.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

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Rating: 5 stars  

23 people found this review helpful

Finding Compassion & Choices when my mother was diagnosed with late stage Ovarian Cancer was literally a life saver. Both my parents loved life, lived it fully, and always made clear that when they could no longer do so,they wanted to die with dignity. The counseling services and support we received were phenomenal. Once my mother knew that her end-of-life decisions could be honored, she lived the last months of her life with the same spirit and zest that characterized her. After she died, there was no question in my mind that I would work with Compassion and Choices to ensure that we can all have that same freedom of mind and heart at the end of life.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

giving my mother control and peace of mind at the end of her life. I've also seen that their educational efforts have worked in two states since I've become involved.

What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

The people are great. The empathy and compassion of everyone involved makes a real difference.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

empathic, warm, extremely dedicated and knowledgable.

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

put end of life decisions where they belong, in individual's hands.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009-1-01

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