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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Civil Rights, Right to Die & Euthanasia

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

Community Stories

4 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

3

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

4

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

2

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

27

Board Member

Rating: 5

C&C has had a remarkable track record of success in helping patients, educating legislators, press and the public, and pushing for legislation that will permit Aid-in-Dying. The Washington victory this past November is a wonderful step forward, and supporters should feel very confident their contributions are being very well used.