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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

9 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Donor

Rating: 5

I have donated to C and C for the last 13 years. Their work matters and they do such much with a limited budget. Advocating for choice at the end of life is not an easy topic and therefore raising money to do the important work is not easy.
I have known my donations will be used well advocating and supporting patients and families on those tough end of life decisions.

2

Donor

Rating: 5

Compassion & Choices is a superior non-profit: well-organized, effective and competent in all those critical areas that make a donor want to give and give.

1

Donor

Rating: 5

When my mother was at the end of her life, the doctor could not give her pills she could take for a peaceful death with her family gathered around her. Instead, we had to suffer with her for several weeks as she starved herself to death. And as it turned out, I was not able to be at her bedside when she died.
I am therefore very hopeful that the District of Columbia Council will soon pass a Death With Dignity Bill, so that if I or my husband should find ourselves in a similar situation, two doctors could give us pills with which to end our lives, with our children around us.
Because we feel so strongly about this issue, we are enthusiastic supporters of Compassion & Choices and its work to make a dignified death possible. I'm proud to give this organization a top rating as a Great Non-Profit!
Sarah G Epstein
Washington DC

2 susan barry

Donor

Rating: 5

I learned of Compassion and Choices by name from a close friend's daughter who represented it in California. I of course knew of the much needed assisted-dying options legally in progress or process in some states, but had no idea of the vast resource and personal consultant aid this remarkable organization also offers. (For example the two C and C -initiated Directive Forms regarding dementia and end-of-life measures,"My Particular Wishes," which you can add to your Advance Directive.) The free service of a personal voice and name "there" for you --during the challenging terminal stage of life--is simply beyond superlatives. As someone with a hospice background, I am proud to support and heartily recommend this nonprofit. Susan Barry, Horseshoe Bay, TX

1

Donor

Rating: 5

Shortly after my Mom- 90, a California resident, emailed ( with child like spellings)from 3,000 miles away(New England) to say she felt like her head had opened up and everything she ever knew had flown out of it, that she was in big trouble and did not know what to do,(she ALWAYS knew what to do) she started asking for help to end her life.
She was an extremely competent, confident ,accomplished person whose entire self identity and worth was experiencing herself as a competent contributing person.
In our search for information and help, my brother and I first connected to Compassion and Choices in Washington state where he lives.
They were helpful compassionate listeners , sharing information but not pushing an agenda other than to answer our questions and suggest resources.
As we traveled along with Mom on her journey of diminished cognitive ability she never stopped realizing what was happening to her or begging for help to choose her exit time.
She was emphatic that she did not want to be at the point of "wetting the bed and not recognizing her own children". In the end at age 92 (and under hospice care) she was 'saved' from this outcome by a a diminishing heart rate that allowed her to be spared from the longer decline into loss of her own identity and self that dementia suffers can experience.
In honor of her life (and lack of choice at its end) I have been a supporter of Compassion and Choices. They are doing a remarkable job of educating people and working on legislation to give people the choices for death with dignity that are wanted.
I have found CC to be excellent at keeping donors informed of what is happening. I do not feel that they hit me up for donations each time I make one as with some organizations but rather that we are on a mutual journey to accomplish introduction of legislation and passage of choices for people if they want /need them during the last chapter of their lives. California's new law was not in time for my Mom but I celebrate it on her behalf and look for more states to offer compassion and choice including my own.


1

Donor

Rating: 5

The people in this organization are very bright, passionate, and compassionate. I've worked with many non-profits, and none compare to the group of people who make up Compassion & Choices....they are so helpful, go out of their way to appreciate volunteers, donors, and handle inquiries brilliantly. Seriously, don't give it another thought....they are the best at what they do, are responsible and dedicated. They set a very high bar for any other non-profit. Joan Hoberman

1

Donor

Rating: 5

C&C is a tremendously successful lobbying organization. It deserves most of the credit for getting death-with-dignity legislation enacted in California last year - in a special session of the legislature, bypassing all committees. I am a California lawyer and had judged this feat to be impossible. Barbara Combs-Lee, the president, and Dan Diaz are truly extraordinary spokespersons.

6 Ann Thompson

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

29

Donor

Rating: 5

Compassion & Choices is THE national end-of-life choices organization. I have been a donor for many years and continue to be impressed with the creative and excellent work of the organization. C&C uses every tool possible to get its message of choice to the public, government officials and its members. This last year alone they passed a law in California, won a court case in Montana and passed a ballot measure in the state of Washington. On the client side, the care is supportive and responsive. C&C has helped pave the way for people across the country to know and exercise their choices at the end of life.