Compassion & Choices

Rating: 4.64 stars   14 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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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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