Final Options Illinois

Blog

"Blog" -- short for "Weblog" -- a diary of interesting and important events.
The movement to establish the legal right to aid in dying is very large and worldwide.
Our blog is intended to be a diary of some of those most important events.

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updated March 10, 2017

Final Options Illinois
815-366-7942 or 224-565-1500
1055 W. Bryn Mawr #F212
Chicago IL 60660-4692
info@finaloptionsillinois.org
Twitter: @FinalOptionsIL
Final Options Illinois on YouTube

Illinois End of Life Options Coalition
www.illinoisoptions.org
And on Facebook

Compassion and Choices
800-247-7421
www.compassionandchoices.org

Death With Dignity National Center
www.deathwithdignity.org

Final Exit Network
866-654-9156
www.finalexitnetwork.org

ERGO -- website of Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphry
www.finalexit.org

Dying With Dignity Canada
www.dyingwithdignity.ca

March 10, 2017:  Desmond Tutu:  "Dying people should have the right to choose how and when they leave Mother Earth"

Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and famed archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, penned this powerful op-ed last October for the Washington Post:  "Just as I have argued firmly for fairness and compassion in life, I believe that terminally ill people should be treated with the same compassion and fairness when it comes to the their deaths.  Dying people should have the right to choose how and when they leave Mother Earth.  I believe that, alongside the wonderful palliative care that exists, their choices should include a dignified assisted death."

His concluding paragraph is especially relevant:  "In refusing people the right to die with dignity, we fail to demonstrate the compassion that lies at the heart of Christian values.  I pray that politicians, lawmakers and religious leaders have the courage to support the choices terminally ill citizens make in departing Mother Earth.  The time to act is now."

March 9, 2017:  Hawaii State Senate passes aid in dying bill by overwhelming 22 to 3 majority

Astoundingly wonderful news!  On March 7th, the Hawaii State Senate passed SB 1129, an Oregon-style aid in dying bill, by an vote of 22 to 3.  The bill now goes to the Hawaii House of Representatives.  This overwhelming majority gives hope that Hawaii will soon become the seventh US state to make aid in dying legal.

Our hats off to the wonderful people at the Hawaii Death With Dignity Society and the Death With Dignity National Center, who have achieved this great victory.  Sign the card thanking our far-sighted and public-spirited Hawaii legislators and read the full history of the Hawaii effort so far!

March 5, 2017:  Unitarian policies on aid in dying -- important reading

The official policy of the Unitarian Universalist Association, "The Right To Die With Dignity", adopted in 1988, is fascinating and important reading.

It opens with the following profound statement:  "Guided by our belief as Unitarian Universalists that human life has inherent dignity, which may be compromised, when life is extended beyond the will or ability of a person to sustain that dignity; and believing that it is every person's inviolable right to determine in advance the course of action to be taken in the event that there is no reasonable expectation of recovery from extreme physical or mental disability..."

And concludes that "Unitarian Universalists advocate the right to self-determination in dying, and the release from civil or criminal penalties of those who, under proper safeguards, act to honor the right of terminally ill patients to select the time of their own deaths..."

What a tremendously enlightened statement !!!  Also highly recommended:  "Choice At The End of Life", by Elaine McArdle, in UU World, April 25, 2016.

February 20, 2017:  DC aid in dying law goes into effect !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, February 17, was the conclusion of the 30-day period during which the US Congress has the power to review and overturn legislation passed in the Washington DC city council.  And, although the resolution to overturn DC's wonderful new aid-in-dying law was passed out of a House committee, it was never brought to a floor vote in either the House or Senate.

That means that as of Monday, February 20, 2017, the DC law is in effect, and medical aid in dying is now available to residents of our nation's capital.  Hallelujah !!!!!!!  But the fight's only beginning, because (a) evil and misguided members of Congress could still attempt to block the DC law by denying funding to implement the bill's requirement that every case be reported (even though it's a truly negligible amount of money), (b) our victories in DC and Colorado have put our cause front and center and emboldened our opponents to try to reverse our state victories at the federal level (see a Feb. 15 article in USA Today), and (c) the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court represents an existential threat to our cause.

Eleanor Holmes-Norton, DC's wonderful (and in a great injustice to the people of DC and the cause of representative democracy, non-voting) representative in Congress, says on her website:  "Today we note our first victory in our battle to defend the Death with Dignity Act from overbearing and undemocratic congressional attacks.  We kept constant pressure on House Republicans and prevented a House floor vote after the markup by calling out the 24 House Republicans, including two Members of House leadership, who are from the six states where medical aid in dying is legal.  However, our defense of the Death with Dignity Act is only beginning.  House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and House Appropriations Committee Member Andy Harris (R-MD) have already publicly said they are looking to use the appropriations process to block or overturn D.C.’s purely local legislation.  D.C. residents and local officials have shown they are ready to fight to defend our local democracy.  We intend to win as we did last Congress when we successfully protected D.C.’s local anti-discrimination law."

For an excellent defense of the DC law and a point-by-point rebuttal of the arguments made against aid in dying laws, please see a recent post in Bioethics.net by Professor Craig Klugman of our own Northwestern University.

Our special thanks for making this great victory happen to DC mayor Muriel E. Bowser, DC councilwoman Mary Cheh and other members of the DC city council, to hundreds of activists in Washington DC, and to the wonderfully effective leadership of the Death With Dignity National Center and Compassion & Choices.

January 18, 2017:  Fools in US Congress threaten DC's wonderful new aid in dying law

We need to rescue Washington DC's wonderful new aid in dying law, from a horrifying act of overreach by some extremely foolish Congressmen.

Washington's great new law was passed by the DC city council by an overwhelming 11 to 2 majority, in two separate votes, on November 1st and 15th of last year, and on December 19 Washington mayor Muriel E. Bowser signed it.  But the US Congress has the authority to override laws passed in the DC city council, and now several legislators have introduced a resolution to do just that.  Spurred on by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the resolution was introduced in the House by Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Ohio, and in the Senate, by Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma).

This blatantly undemocratic attempt to override the will of the people of Washington DC has been denounced by the editorial board of the Washington Post, which wrote on January 12, "A congressman overreaches on DC's death-with-dignity law."  Washington DC's non-voting delegate to Congress, Eleanor Holmes Norton, said, "Senator Lankford and Representative Wenstrup claim to carry the mantle for a small, limited federal government, yet they have introduced bills that abuse the federal government's power over the District in order to interfere with our purely local affairs."  And Council member Mary Cheh, who authored the aid in dying law, blasted what she called "the extreme arrogance of these members of Congress who think that they can just impose their personal will on the 600,000 plus people of the District of Columbia."

Let's hope our senators and representatives in the US Congress vote NO on the Wenstrup-Lankford resolution to overturn the DC aid in dying law.

January 17, 2017:  The New York Times reports:  "Physician Aid In Dying Gains Acceptance in the U.S."

Columnist Paula Span, writing on January 16
, notes that "the country has arrived at a remarkable moment:  Close to 20 percent of Americans live in jurisdictions where adults can legally end their lives if they are terminally ill and meet eligibility requirements." 

Describing the growing acceptance of aid in dying, Ms. Span quotes Donna Smith, legislative manager for the District of Columbia for Compassion & Choices, "I hear talk all the time about this being a rich white person's issue.  Now we have proof on the ground that this is not true."  The Times notes that "In the District of Columbia, nearly half of whose residents are African-American, five of six black council members voted in favor of the legislation."

January 3, 2017:  from Good Housekeeping:  "I'm Terminally Ill, and I Want to Choose When I Die"

We just came across this incredibly powerful article, published in "Good Housekeeping" magazine on November 1, 2016.  It's by Jenny Cooper, as told to Kate Storey.  Jenny died on December 1, after a long battle with breast cancer. 

Ms. Cooper described her situation:  "I'm only 34, but for years, I've been fighting breast cancer which has spread throughout my body.  Today, I'm in hospice care, which means I could take my last breath any day.  I believe now more than ever that every terminally ill person deserves to have the choice to die on his or her own terms.  But I live in Texas, where it's illegal for physicians to prescribe medication to end a terminally ill patient's life.  I'm sharing my story because I hope I can make a difference.  I hope that people on the fence about 'death with dignity' laws, which would let me end my life with the assistance of a physician, will be able to put themselves in my shoes, my husband's shoes and my kids' shoes to understand why I'm fighting until the very end to make sure things change."

Ms. Cooper concluded:  "The life we used to know ended awhile ago.  That's why I think it should be up to me and my family when I end this battle.  I just don't want them to be scared anymore.  I'm out of treatment options, so all I'm doing at this point is growing cancer and waiting for death.  Why would anyone force this on another person?  Giving the terminally ill the choice should be a basic human right."

Thank you, Jenny !!!!  Your words will live on.

January 2, 2017:  Our January newsletter, featuring victories in Colorado and Washington DC.

With the news from Colorado, where aid in dying legislation was approved on Nov. 8 by nearly two-thirds of voters, and from Washington DC, where aid in dying was passed by the DC City Council by an eleven to two majority and signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser on Dec 19.  Featuring a review of Diane Rehm's new book "On My Own", and flyers for upcoming showings of "How To Die In Oregon" and for our upcoming event "Truth In Treatment" on March 20, featuring Kim Callinan of Compassion & Choices.

December 27, 2016:  The C&C Year-End Video, a fascinating interview in Medscape with famed doctor Timothy Quill, and overwhelming public support for medical aid in dying in Australia

Compassion & Choices has produced a wonderful year-end video, highlighting our movement's successes in 2016.  Only six minutes long, highly recommended viewing, check it out here!  Also check out this fascinating piece by C&C's Barbara Coombs Lee and Kim Callinan, "Medical aid-in-dying: a hallmark of patient-centered care", published in TheHill.com on November 22.

Highly recommended: medical ethicist Arthur Caplan's interview of Doctor Timothy Quill, from Medscape, on December 5.  The headline is "Physician-Assisted Dying -- Our Society Needs It, says MD".  Dr. Quill is a professor at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, director of the Center for Ethics, Humanities and Palliative Care, and a board-certified physician in palliative care.

From Australia:  Ross Fitzgerald writes in the Brisbane Times on overwhelming public support for passage of medical aid in dying legislation.  77% of Catholics and 88% of Anglicans want to see aid in dying made legal !!!  The article describes how arguments against aid in dying "pale into insignificance alongside the deep and unnecessary suffering that many people will through in the end stage of their lives," talks about prospects for passage of aid in dying legislation in the Australian states of Victoria, and notes how "Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews recently experienced the death of his father from cancer.  By all accounts, this harrowing experience may have changed his attitudes and opened his heart to the possibility of a new way of dealing with death and dying for all Victorians." 

And check out the wonderful website of Go Gentle Australia !!!!  What a wonderful organizational name.  That's what it's all about, going gently when it's time to go.

December 25, 2016:  Mayor Bowser signs the DC aid in dying bill !!!!!

Dear supporters of the right to aid in dying,

We're overjoyed to report that Washington DC mayor Muriel Bowser signed Bill 2138, the Death With Dignity Act of 2016, on December 19th, completing final approval of the bill by the District of Columbia government.  There's a beautiful picture of Mayor Bowser in the Washington Post story which appeared on the 20th.  Mayor Bowser's action comes after the DC city council twice approved the bill by an overwhelming eleven to two majority, most recently on November 15th.  The bill could yet be overturned by the US Congress, so stay tuned; the Post reported that there's a 30-day period, starting when the bill was signed, during which this could happen.

Here's the Washington Post story which ran on November 1 when the bill first passed the DC council -- check out the beautiful photo of Dan Diaz, widower of Brittany Maynard, who did so much to advance our cause, together with impassioned volunteers from Compassion & Choices.  And here's the Washington Post story which ran on November 15 when the DC city council gave final approval to the legislation, featuring an enjoyable video of DC council member Yvette Alexander offering an amendment to ensure that the bill included the reporting requirement that will facilitate collection of data about how many people are using the law.

The news from DC follows the news from Colorado, where voters decisively approved a strong aid in dying bill on November 8th, by a nearly two to one margin. 2016 has been quite a year for our cause, with aid in dying laws going into effect in California and all across Canada, and the winning votes in Colorado and DC.  And we feel quite proud and grateful for the forthright and effective leadership of the two major national groups working for legal change -- Compassion & Choices, and the Death With Dignity National Center.

November 26, 2016:  Aid in dying has become law in Colorado, passes in Washington DC, and moves forward in New Jersey

Our movement took two more huge steps forward this month.

On November 8th, voters in Colorado passed Proposition 106, the Colorado End of Life Options Act, by an overwhelming 65% to 35% margin.  The law will go into effect in January.  Colorado thus becomes the sixth state to make aid in dying legal, joining California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont, and Montana. 

And on November 15th, the Washington DC city council gave final approval to a strong aid in dying measure for our nation’s capital.  The decisive 11 to 2 vote now sends the bill to DC mayor Muriel Bowser, who is expected to approve it within the next few days.  The bill could still be overridden by the U.S. Congress, however.

Supporting the DC bill, Dr. Omega Silva said, “I have three cancer diagnoses.  As an internist and endocrinologist for 45 years, I know from experience some dying patients suffer unbearably, even if they have the best spiritual support, hospice and palliative care.”  Dr. Silva is the first woman president of the Howard University Medical Alumni Association and a former president of the American Medical Women’s Association.

Barbara Coombs Lee, president of the national group Compassion & Choices, wrote:  “What gives me optimism is that at least this issue, our issue, cuts so clearly and deeply across both ends of the spectrum and all political parties.  Our ballot initiative in Colorado passed with 65% of the vote in an election that saw razor-thin margins for candidates in battleground states like Colorado. In a nation divided, end-of-life choice is one issue on which a solid two-thirds of the people agree.”

Peg Sandeen, executive director of the Death With Dignity National Center, wrote:  “We are cautiously optimistic the D.C. bill will become law: 67 percent of District residents support the legislation; the Council vote yielded a veto-proof majority; dozens of D.C. residents have been calling the Mayor's office to urge her to approve the bill; and the Colorado vote has reverberated across the nation, sending the message that Americans want this option.  We are hopeful that our nation's capital will soon join the ranks of Oregon, Washington, California, Vermont, and Colorado as a jurisdiction where Death with Dignity is legal.”

Best places to read all about it:  the website of Yes on Colorado End of Life Options (check out the beautiful photo of celebrating volunteers and watch the TV ads the campaign ran), the Compassion & Choices website, the Death With Dignity National Center website, the New York Times story on Colorado with detailed vote counts, the Denver Post, the Denver Channel, and the Washington Post article. 

June 21, 2016:  Aid in dying is now legal throughout Canada

Friday, June 17, 2016 will be remembered as a momentous step forward for our movement to establish the right to aid-in-dying as a fundamental human right.

On that date, the Canadian Senate passed bill C-14 put forward by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party, which had previously been passed by the House of Commons.  This made aid-in-dying fully legal all across Canada, and established a country-wide legal framework for its implementation.

There are many parameters of the new Canadian law which are similar to those of our own Oregon, Washington, Vermont and California laws.  The Canadian law allows assisted dying for consenting adults “in an advanced stage of irreversible decline” from a serious and “incurable” disease, illness or disability and for whom natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.”

Canadian Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould and Health Minister Jane Philpott issued a joint statement, saying:  “The legislation strikes the right balance between personal autonomy for those seeking access to medically assisted dying and protecting the vulnerable.”  The new law has the strong support of the Canadian Medical Association, which said in a statement that it was “pleased that historic federal legislation on medical aid in dying is now in place.”  Cindy Forbes, president of the CMA, said the law brings clarity and balance to assisted dying.  “I feel very confident the government has done the right thing.”  (Let’s hope that our own American Medical Association adopts such an enlightened position soon!)

A brief summary of the history leading up to this momentous event:  In June, 2014, the Canadian province of Quebec passed a groundbreaking and far-reaching aid-in-dying bill, and in February, 2015, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled unanimously (nine to nothing !!!!) that aid-in-dying is a fundamental human right for terminally ill people, part of a broader human right to compassionate care at end of life.  On December 10, 2015, the Quebec law went into force.  And on June 6, the Canadian Supreme Court’s ruling took effect, invalidating all previously existing laws banning aid-in-dying.

To us in the USA, it’s fascinating that the debate in Canada over the bill has not been about whether aid in dying should be legal, but rather about whether the new law goes far enough, and in particular that it does not help people who suffer from intolerable medical conditions even though they may not be “terminal.”  The Canadian Supreme Court’s 2015 decision establishes intolerable physical suffering as a condition for aid in dying without requiring that the person be terminal.  However, Ellen Wiebe, a Vancouver doctor who has been assisting in deaths, said she sees the new law as flexible. In her view, patients with advanced multiple sclerosis, who would die if they did not accept treatment, could be deemed to face a “reasonably foreseeable” natural death, and therefore be eligible for medical assistance to end their lives.

Read all about it at the Montreal Gazette, the Toronto Globe & Mail, the Canadian Broadcasting Company, and the Huffington Post (which has a piece about aid-in-dying laws around the world.)  Here’s the full text of the new law, and the website of our wonderful sister organization Dying With Dignity Canada.

June 12, 2016:  It's here!!  New aid in dying law starts up in California !!!!!!

This past Friday, June 9, 2016, was a truly momentous day:  the new, wonderful California aid-in-dying law took effect.

Exactly like the laws in Oregon, Washington, and Vermont, the California law allows terminally ill people, mentally competent adults to obtain medication they may choose to take to hasten death.  In other words, to skip the final, often agonizing, stages of dying.  With this new law, medical aid-in-dying is now available to sixteen percent of Americans.  We urgently need to make this a fundamental human right everywhere. 

Read all about it in the June 10th issue of the New York Times!

Californian Kristy Allan, 63, suffering for seven years with advanced colon cancer, explains her decision to take advantage of the new law:

“Whatever gives you a sense of control over your destiny is empowering…It just absolutely makes sense.  It’s such a basic right to me.  I don’t see how you can take the Constitution seriously and not agree that it’s consistent with the rest of the liberties we have.”

California physician Dr. Lonny Shavelson explains how he will counsel his doctor colleagues to be comfortable with new law:

“We always listen to the patient.  We never tell a patient: ‘This is what you have to do.  You have no choice.’  Yet at the moment when their life is ending – when they say, ‘I don’t want to live in this bed for the next three weeks waiting to die’ – it’s an odd change in the consent procedure.  Suddenly they become wrong and we become right.  That does not make sense to me.  Dying should not be completely separate from everything else we do in medicine.”

The leadership of our country’s two wonderful national aid-in-dying groups have geared up to defend and implement the new law.  Read all about it at Compassion & Choices California and California Death With Dignity!

Canadian laws banning aid-in-dying are now history !!!!

Exciting news keeps on coming from our neighbor to the north.

In June, 2014, the Canadian province of Quebec passed a groundbreaking and far-reaching aid-in-dying bill, and in February, 2015, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled unanimously (nine to nothing !!!!) that aid-in-dying is a fundamental human right for terminally ill people, part of a broader human right to compassionate care at end of life.  On December 10, 2015, the Quebec law went into force.  And now, on June 6, the Canadian Supreme Court’s ruling took effect, meaning that previously existing laws banning aid-in-dying no longer apply.

The Canadian Parliament in Ottawa continues to debate the precise parameters of the new law, coming soon, that will provide a legal framework for implementing the court’s decision.  The bill now before the parliament would allow aid-in-dying for adults with a “serious and incurable illness” which has brought them “enduring physical or psychological suffering,” and whose natural death is “reasonably foreseeable.”

Our wonderful sister organization Dying With Dignity Canada is working hard to ensure that the bill that is ultimately passed is as strong as possible.  Read all about it at Dying With Dignity Canada, and in the June 7th issue of the New York Times.


March 14, 2016:  Powerful piece on "Sixty Minutes" -- the strongest argument yet for making aid-in-dying a fundamental human right

The famed and prestigious CBS Television newsmagazine "60 Minutes" featured an incredibly powerful piece, "Aid In Dying", on Sunday, March 13.  If you haven't seen it, click here to watch it, and if you have seen it, watch it again!  It's thirteen and half minutes, and one of the most strongest arguments ever made for establishing the right to aid-in-dying.

The segment features Brittany Maynard, the young woman who was terminally ill with a horrible form of brain cancer, and whose courageous videos reached millions of people worldwide; Dan Diaz, Brittany's husband, who has become a full-time advocate; Dr. Eric Walsh, Brittany's physician in Oregon; Elizabeth Wallner, terminally ill with colon cancer; and Jennifer Glass, who died a horrible death from lung cancer in California last year, and who illustrates the limitations of palliative sedation.

A great quote from Dr. Walsh:  "When somebody's facing the end of their life, shouldn't they be in control?  Shouldn't I be able to help them when they're suffering, and the burden of living becomes intolerable to them?"

Dr. John LaPook, who reported the story, described how Ms. Wallner, who was raised Catholic, disagrees with those who say aid-in-dying goes against God's will.  In one of the most moving sections, Ms. Wallner says, "I don't believe in a God that would want me to suffer and struggle to death.  I don't believe in an uncompassionate God.  The only argument that I've heard that actually makes any sense is that there is some beauty in struggle.  And I agree with that, there is beauty in struggle.  But four and a half years, end of a struggle, I'm good, you know?"  She said that last part with a twinkle, with a laugh.

You can read more about Jennifer Glass on NPR, on the San Mateo Daily Journal, and on the British newspaper Daily Mail.

February 28, 2016:  Remembering Lynn Lawson

We mourn the death of Lynn Lawson, longtime supporter and activist for the right to aid-in-dying, on January 30.  Lynn was 90, and a very special person.  A resident of Evanston together with her husband Court, who died last year, Lynn was a pioneer in the area of "multiple chemical sensitivities", an author and a well known and respected authority on the subject of environmental illness.  Last fall she was awarded the first "EI Pioneer Award" by the National Center on Environmental Health Strategies.

In recent years, as Lynn and Court both grew older, frailer, and sicker, Lynn become one of our most outspoken advocates.  In 2014, she and Court made a powerful video for the Chicago Tribune -- highly recommended.  In the article in the print edition of the Tribune on September 17, 2014, Lynn described her "constellation of ailments -- including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, peripheral neuropathy, macular degeneration and glaucoma -- that have greatly diminished her quality of life.  She no longer can see, hear or enjoy her lifelong habit of reading the newspaper.  Just breathing requires constantly coughing up secretions that accumulate in her lungs. 'It just weakens me all the time,' she said wearily.  Her husband, Court, who is in the final stages of emphysema, is on oxygen in hospice care.  'I sit here and hear him moan, 'I just want to die.'...Lynn has had a full, vibrant life...but now, with her deteriorating physical state and after much reflection, she resents the fact that she is not allowed to make this most personal decision.  'It's as if Illinois wants us to suffer.'"

Recently we inaugurated our new Final Options Illinois YouTube channel, with testimony from people for whom the right to aid-in-dying is a very personal issue.  And a video with Lynn that she made last December was the very first personal story shared -- highly recommended.

There will be a memorial for Lynn at 4:00 pm on Sunday, April 17, at the Unitarian Church of Evanston.

February 23, 2016:  Barbara Coombs Lee on CBS Sunday Morning, and NPR radio host Diane Rehm's powerful new book, "On My Own"

A powerful six minute piece on our movement appeared on CBS Sunday Morning this past Sunday, February 21, featuring Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices.  The story notes that 68% of Americans now favor establishing the legal right to medical aid-in-dying, and quotes Coombs Lee saying, "Comfort at the end of life should not be an accident of your geography."  The story gives way too much time to an opponent, a relatively young man who beat brain cancer, but it's well worth watching.

Famed National Public Radio host Diane Rehm has a powerful new book out titled "On My Own", about her husband John Rehm's final illness and death.  The book's advertisement reads, "The beloved NPR host reflects on the loss of her husband and her resulting advocacy for the 'right to die' movement."

The book opens with the story of how John decided it was time to die -- "because Parkinson's disease had so affected him that he no longer had the use of his hands, arms or legs, because he could no longer stand, walk, eat, bathe, or in any way care for himself on his own, he was now ready to die.  He said that he understood the disease was progressing, taking him further and further into incapacity, with no hope of improvement.  Therefore, he wanted to end his life."

But without an aid-in-dying law in Maryland, where Diane and John lived, his only alternative was a slow, difficult death from ceasing eating and drinking.  Rehm writes, "I sat by my husband's side as he slowly died.  I rage at a system that would not allow John to be helped toward his own death.  He was of rational mind, with no hope of recovery, knowing full well that the only way ahead was a slow downward slide, moving toward more incapacity, and even greater indignity.  Why should it be that only a few states allow aid in dying with help from a trained physician willing to offer this ultimate gift?  Why should my husband have to starve himself to death?"

Thank you, Ms. Rehm!  Here's the book's review from the January 22 Washington Post.

February 19, 2016:  Hearings on aid-in-dying bill in Maryland

A great aid-in-dying bill went before a committee of the Maryland legislature today.  Best place to learn all about it -- the Compassion & Choices Twitter feed

Also see "Life is for the Dying," reviews of five new books in the New York Times last Sunday.  Best quote is from the review of "The Good Death:  An Exploration of Dying in America" by Ann Neumann:  "We most often die not in the arms of those we love, but in rooms full of bewildering machinery and uniformed professionals.  Caught up in the medical paradigm of cure, we assent to heroci measures we didn't want in hospitals we deplore.  In 'The Good Death', Neumann sets out to understand this modern tragedy...She emerges a supporter of physician-assisted dying...'There is no good death, I now know...But there is a good enough death.'"

Also see "The Discomfort of Confronting Discomfort," about the benefits of palliative care, in the New York Times on February 16.  Reporting on a study of terminally ill people, the articles describes how "those who received early palliative care scored significantly higher on quality of life measures than those receive standard care, and were less likely to suffer from depression.  They were also less likely to get aggressive end-of-life treatment like chemotherapy in their final weeks.  Yet they survived several months longer."

Also recommended:  the obituary for John Jay Hooker, 85: "After John Jay Hooker Jr. learned he had metastatic melanoma in January 2015, he began the last crusade of his quixotic career.  He persuaded a Tennessee legislator to introduce a bill granting what Mr. Hooker called the 'ultimate civil right' by legalizing doctor-assisted suicide.  Typically, he also sued the state.  Mr. Hooker's effort to replicate Oregon's Death With Dignity Act failed in the General Assembly, and his lawsuit was dismissed.  On Sunday he died in a Nashville hospice."  Thank you, John Jay!  We will remember you.

Also recommended:  the hilarious, moving and profound memoir "Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant?"  Written and drawn by famed writer, artist and cartoonist Roz Chast, this deeply affecting work is her love letter to her eccentric parents and her account of the realities of their decline and death.  Here's the latest review and the 2014 review from the New York Times.

February 17, 2016:  Check out our ad in the Daily Herald

We Wouldn't Let a Dog Suffer Like That!  We ran a powerful ad in the Daily Herald for our program on Sunday February 21 at the Countryside Church.  Check it out!

January 31, 2016:  Quebec law has gone into effect !!!

On December 10, aid-in-dying became available for all terminally-ill residents of the Canadian province of Quebec, when Bill 52, "An Act Respecting End Life Care", went into effect.

The bill was passed in June, 2014, by an overwhelming 94-22 majority of the Quebec legislature, but implementation was held up by court challenges.  On December 22 of last year, however, the Quebec Court of Appeal decisively rejected these challenges.

Gaétan Barrette, Quebec’s Minister of Health, thanked the court, saying “We’re offering citizens of this province a continuum of options, and that’s the very essence of this bill. We believe in this province that society has evolved to a point where citizens have the right to choose.”

Dr. David Amies, a member of the Physicians Advisory Council of Dying With Dignity Canada, wrote “I suspect that once the first few cases are concluded with empathy and care, there will be an increasing level of support. Physicians and the general public will come to accept that medical skill does not have all the answers and that some competent people can and will decide for themselves that they have had enough.”

On February 6, 2015, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled unanimously (9-0) that Canadians have a fundamental human right to physician aid-in-dying at end of life. The court gave the federal and provincial legislatures one year to craft laws implementing its ruling. Fervent discussions are going on all across Canada, and with the one-year anniversary of that ruling fast approaching, the Canadian federal government has requested a six month extension. Visit the website of Dying With Dignity Canada at www.dyingwithdignity.ca for more exciting news.

November 12, 2015:  Advocating for aid-in-dying on CBS TV station in Champaign-Urbana

Final Options Illinois president Ed Gogol appeared on Champaign-Urbana CBS TV station WCIA yesterday morning, advocating for the passage of an Oregon-style aid-in-dying law for Illinois.

He made a strong case for aid-in-dying as a fundamental human right, a choice that must become available to every terminally ill, mentally competent adult.  Here's the full clip.  It's just a few minutes but really summarizes what we're about.

Some quotes:  "It can be a very rational choice to say, I don't want to stick around through the bitter end, I'm going to die anyway.  I want to choose a peaceful death instead of an agonizing death."  And, "People don't want to die ... we all hang on as long as we can, as long as we can tolerate our suffering.  But sometimes suffering is so bad that all you want to do is go to sleep."  And, distinguishing aid-in-dying from suicide:  "When somebody is dying, when death is inevitable and we simply choose to avoid those final agonizing stages, that's not a tragedy, that's a blessing."

October 30, 2015:  Working for aid-in-dying in New Mexico and New York

On Monday, October 27, Kathryn Tucker, executive director of the Disability Rights Legal Center, argued before the New Mexico supreme court that aid-in-dying is a fundamental human right under the New Mexico constitution.  We are hoping for a favorable ruling, similar to the 2012 ruling that established the right to aid-in-dying in Montana.  Ms. Tucker reports that "we are cautiously optimistic based on the questioning of the justices." Read all about it at the Disability Rights Legal Center, and here's the news clip from the Albuquerque Journal.

USA Today reported on October 22 on the May Gallup poll:  The question was, "When a person has an incurable disease, should doctors be allowed to help end a patient's life by some painless means if the patient requests it?"  And the answer?  Fully 70% of respondents said "Yes" !!!

David Leven, executive director of our sister organization End of Life Choices New York, has published op-ed's in the Albany Times Union, the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, and the Buffalo News, arguing for the passage of an Oregon-style law in New York state. 

October 24, 2015:  "Living With Cancer -- Deciding About Dying" says it all

Susan Gubar, ill with ovarian cancer, published a powerful piece in the New York Times on October 22nd advocating for the right to aid-in-dying.

Explaining that "suicide" is the wrong term, she writes, "Physician-assisted suicide suggests that death eventuates from a doctor's collusion in the willful decision of a patient to shorten her life.  Physician-assisted death suggests that death, hastened by a doctor, eventuates from the inevitable physical deterioration caused by mortal disease.  I prefer the phrases physician-assisted dying or aid-in-dying, which imply that the doctor supports an already dying patient throughout the dying process."

Pointing out the hypocrisy of those who would deny this choice to others, she writes, "Of course I honor the position of people who say, 'My life is a precious gift that I must not relinquish even when I am dying of an incurable disease.' What baffles me is the sentence 'Your life is a precious gift that you must not relinquish even when you are dying with an incurable disease.'  Surely this decision should be made individually by each of us, and we ought to be free to make it in accordance with our own values."

Thank you, Ms. Gubar !!!!   Well said.

Also on October 22nd:  Final Options Illinois president Ed Gogol was interviewed by host Wayne Besen on radio station WCPT, Chicago's Progressive Talk, 820 AM, advocating for the right to aid-in-dying to be established here in Illinois.  Here's the tape.

October 18, 2015:  Powerful article "The Last Choice" in Time Magazine promotes aid-in-dying

The September 28 issue of Time Magazine has a powerful article focusing on Dr. Daniel Swangard, a California anesthesiologist with pancreatic cancer.  Published before Governor Brown signed the California aid-in-dying law, the articles quotes Dr. Swangard urging final approval of the law:  "I don't want to die in a hospital.  I've seen that happen.  I don't want to be in a morphine fog.  I want to be somewhere that's familiar to me and have the people around me that I love." 

The article quotes prominent bioethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan:  "If California passes it, that'll be huge because that's a big state with major implications for the country.  People can look at Oregon and say, 'Oh, that's a bunch of tree-hugging secularists somewhere out at the end of the country.  You can't dismiss California that way."  Indeed!

It's another sign that our movement has gone mainstream!

October 6, 2015:  the American Humanist Association affirms its support for the right to aid-in-dying

Worth checking out -- the American Humanist Association's resolution calling for human rights for all, including the right to aid-in-dying.

The key "whereas" clause in the resolution:  "Whereas allowing suffering, especially of a dying person, when it could be prevented and it is the wish of that person that suffering be prevented, is torture and detestable to the human condition."

The key "affirms" clause:  that the AHA "affirms the right of every person to choose death when the dignity, value and satisfaction of life is impossible despite currently available therapies."

October 5, 2015:  Victory!  The California End of Life Option Act becomes law

Today will be remembered in history as a tremendous step forward for human rights!  California Governor Jerry Brown has signed the End of Life Option Act, making it law for 38 million Californians.  California now joins Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana, as states where this basic human right has been established.  Around the world, it's now law in Canada, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Colombia.

Governor Browns' signing statement is profound and brief -- five short paragraphs.  "The crux of the matter," he writes, "is whether the State of California should make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering."  He notes the many arguments pro and con, and concludes:  "In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death.  I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.  I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill.  And I wouldn't deny that right to others."

George Eighmey, Vice President of the Death With Dignity National Center, writes, "We've achieved monumental progress for all Americans who want the freedom to make their own end-of-life decisions.  The governor's decision is certain to reverberate across the nation."  Our tremendous gratitude goes out to Compassion & Choices, the Death With Dignity National Center, and the many activists who came together to make this happen.  Please visit the websites of C&C and the National Center to read more.

Our victory will be front-page news in both national and local media.  Here's tonight's story in the New York Times.  Of course our opponents predict dire consequences, but the best rebuttal is the actual experience in Oregon, where in more than twenty years there's been not a hint of coercion or abuse.  And that's important:  the California aid-in-dying law, and the bill we've drafted for Illinois, include stringent protections.  No one must ever be coerced into hastening their death!  We're not just saying that, we really mean it.  Compassionate care at end of life must be a human right, including the full spectrum of palliative care.  The choice to hasten one's death at end of life if suffering has become intolerable, is just that -- a CHOICE, that must become one part of the spectrum of palliative care.

September 28, 2015:  More on the life and death of Dr. M. John Rowe, who did so much to move the AMA along

Dr. M. John Rowe III, known as Jack to his friends and relatives, died last November with the aid of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act.  But before he died, he published a powerful Op-Ed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, pointing out how agonizing death can be, and how unjust and immoral the AMA's position opposing aid-in-dying is.  See the entry for September 3 below.

For more on Jack Rowe, check out these two wonderful pieces.  The first is by Jack Rowe's stepdaughter Lisa Vigil Schattinger, and was published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on December 9 of last year, and the second is a 30 minute interview with Ms. Schattinger and with Gwen Fitzgerald of Compassion & Choices that aired on Cleveland radio station WCPN on March 5.

For a beautiful picture of Dr. Rowe, and more info on Ms. Schattinger, check out C&C's Volunteer spotlight on her.  Ms. Schattinger has founded our new sister organization Ohio End of Life Options.  Great news!

September 26, 2015:  Profound words from David Leven

Writing in a letter to the New York Times published on September 23, David C. Leven offers these profound words about aid in dying and the California bill:  "The California End of Life Option Act clearly states that actions taken within that act are not a suicide or assisted suicide.  And such language has been rejected by the American Public Health Association, the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, the American Medical Women's Association and the American Medical Student Association, among others.  These are dying patients.  They are not suicidal and do not want to die...They opt to take take prescribed medicines only because they can no longer endure terrible suffering."

Mr. Leven is Executive Director of our sister organization End of Life Choices New York.  Thank you Mr. Leven!!!

September 24, 2015:  Steve Chapman of the Tribune editorial board tells Governor Brown:  Sign the bill !!!

In another tremendous step forward, Steve Chapman, a member of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board, has published a powerful column in today's paper urging Governor Brown to sign the California End of Life Option Act.

"Before the Oregon law took effect in 1997," Chapman writes, "critics -- I was one of them -- feared it would put pressure on patients to kill themselves, warp the practice of medicine, dry up hospice care and put the poor in jeopardy...But the fears have not been realized.  The notable things about the Oregon law are its limited impact and the apparent rarity of abuses.  Instead of being devastating and far-reaching, it appears to be modest but beneficial in its effects."  Chapman further points out that "The change had no apparent negative effect on palliative treatment.  On the contrary, 93 percent of those who ended their lives were in hospice care."

Chapman quotes New York University bioethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan: "'I really worried about abuse. The evidence really swung me around.'"

Chapman concludes by writing that "The presumption should be in favor of respecting the freedom of patients.  Just as they have the right to hasten death by rejecting treatment, they should have the right to hasten it by taking lethal prescription drugs."

Thank you, Mr. Chapman !!!   Well said.

September 23, 2015:  New York Times and Washington Post tell Governor Brown:  Sign the bill !!!

In a further sign of how far public opinion has shifted in favor of the right to aid-in-dying, both the New York Times and the Washington Post have published strongly positive editorials urging California Governor Jerry Brown to sign the End of Life Option Act.

The New York Times wrote on September 22, "Mr. Brown should sign the bill into law," noting that "Medical professionals who deal with terminally ill patients are routinely asked for help by desperate families.  In states where aiding a patient in agony to die early is a crime, doctors and nurses sometimes choose to assist secretly, even though doing so can lead to their prosecution.  Others have no recourse other than to recommend that patients starve themselves to death.  Californians deserve better.  As he weighs the merits of the bill before him, Mr. Brown should closely study the experience of Oregon, Washington and Vermont...Medical professionals in all three places have been skillful, compassionate and responsible in giving ailing patients the option to end their lives before their pain gets worse."

Also writing on September 22, the editors of the Washington Post urged Governor Brown to sign the bill:  "For us, it comes down to a question of individual rights and choice.  People who are dying should have humane options for their life's end when those are medically feasible.  Physicians shouldn't have to wink at the law to help such people, as they often do today.  California lawmakers have crafted a bill that allows individuals to assert some control over the manner of their death while building in strong protections to make sure such decisions are never coerced."

Lou Matz, professor of philosophy at the University of the Pacific, has published an open letter to California bishop Blaire in the Stockton, California Record-Net, powerfully rebutting Catholic religious arguments against the right to aid-in-dying:  "Why would a good God want to prolong the suffering of one who doesn't have long to live?...When a person has six months or less to live, feels that he or she has irretrievably lost dignity and has thought carefully and openly about life's end, it is paternalistic for the Church to say its judgement is better and more informed than an individual's during such a personal and momentous time."

September 17, 2015:  California newspapers and famed medical ethicist Arthur Caplan all tell Governor Brown:  Sign the End of Life Option Act !!!

Both the Los Angeles Times and the San-Diego Union Tribune have published editorials strongly urging California Governor Jerry Brown to sign the End of Life Option Act.

The editors of the Los Angeles Times wrote on September 15, "At the foundation of the End of Life Option Act is compassion," and they noted that "...the governor is smart enough to know that the personal and religious ideologies of lawmakers should not trump the right of people who are dying to control the few things they can about their own ending."  They concluded with this rousing statement:  "What should weigh on the governor's conscience is the harm a veto might do to those who may find comfort and compassion in this historic legislation."

The editors of the San Diego Union-Tribune, writing on September 15, also urged Governor Brown to sign the bill, noting that they are persuaded by four arguments:  "the history of other states that have similar laws, particularly Oregon...which has not experienced a single documented case of abuse; that the California bill, which is modeled on the Oregon law, does in fact contain adequate protections against doctor abuse or family coercion; the testimony of the California Medical Association, which dropped its historic opposition to such proposals, saying that even the best palliative care 'isn't always enough'; and finally, by the libertarian argument that such a decision ought to be a legal personal choice."

Even more positive news:  Famed medical ethicist Dr. Arthur Caplan has published a powerful Op-Ed piece in the Chicago Tribune today urging Governor Brown to sign the Act.

Discussing concerns that legalizing aid-in-dying will lead to pressure on vulnerable people to end their lives, Dr. Caplan writes, "These worries are important.  They just have no basis in fact."  And he proceeds to enumerate the many safeguards built into the law.  He specially notes that "The toughest critics of Oregon's law and experience almost never come from Oregon.  There has been no movement to overturn the law there."  He concludes by writing "The evidence shows it does not lead to abuses but rather comfort.  Brown should promptly sign the bill that the people of his state have sent to him."

Dr. Caplan is the director of medical ethics at the New York University Langone Medical Center's Department of Population Health, and a prominent author and expert.  Thank you Dr. Caplan!

September 11, 2015:  California legislature completes approval of the End of Life Option Act

In a historic step forward, the California Senate passed the End of Life Option Act by a vote of 23 to 14, thereby completing legislative approval of this groundbreaking bill.  It now goes to Governor Jerry Brown for signature.  All efforts now turn to urging Governor Brown to sign the bill, or at least not to veto it.  Cross your fingers, but it's looking good for California becoming the fifth US state to establish the right to aid-in-dying.

"Passing this historic bill is a monumental victory for terminally ill Californians," said Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee.  "We are optimistic Governor Brown will sign this law because he is a compassionate person who understands Californians in agony cannot wait another year."

Dozens of supporters, some in wheelchairs with oxygen tanks, shed tears as legislators debated the issue on the California Senate floor.  Some closed their eyes as others held hands before the legislation passed. 

This is a tremendous victory, since California is one of our largest, most populous, most diverse and most advanced states.  Read all about it on the Compassion & Choices website, and on the California Action Network page where you can help make the act a law.  And don't miss the pictures on C&C's Twitter page.

September 8, 2015:  The Lancet endorses aid-in-dying

"The Lancet" is the prestigious medical journal in Britain -- the equivalent of the Journal of the American Medical Association in the US.  Actually, even more than that, the most prestigious medical journal in the world.

So it's tremendously wonderful news that Richard Horton, the Editor-In-Chief of The Lancet and one of the world's most distinguished physicians, has penned a powerful editorial in favor of aid-in-dying.

The editorial discusses the assisted-dying bill which will be voted on this Friday, September 11, in the House of Commons, which has the essential features of the Oregon law.  Dismissing the "slippery slope" argument, the editorial points out that "Those who are concerned about unseen family pressures on patients to end their lives can be reassured by experiences elsewhere, such as in Oregon, where an assisted-dying law has been in operation since 1997."

The editorial points out that "Four out of five members of the public want an assisted dying law," and urges opponents to drop their opposition and instead work to make sure that whatever law is eventually approved "delivers the safest and most humane system for the person living with a terminal condition, while protecting the vulnerable and our profession."  It concludes by saying that "Blindly resisting all efforts to meet the expectations of the terminally ill seems more about ideological (or religious) purity than high-quality health care."

It's in The Lancet, Volume 386, September 5, 2015.  Read the full text here.
September 5, 2015:  California aid-in-dying bill takes another step forward

By a vote of five to three, the Finance Committee of the California Assembly approved the End of Life Option Act on Friday, September 4.  The bill now goes to the full Assembly, and if approved there, will go to the Senate, where a version of the bill was previously approved.

Read all about it on the Compassion & Choices website, cross your fingers, send up a prayer, and contact your friends and relatives in California and ask them to contact their state legislators.  It's bill ABX2-15, the End of Life Option Act.

September 3, 2015:  American Medical Association -- The wall starts to crack !!!

The AMA's official position opposes aid-in-dying, but a new Op-Ed in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by M. John Rowe III, MD, explains why aid-in-dying is profoundly right, moral and ethical.  Dr. Rowe died in November 2014, but his op-ed and his example will go far to advance our cause.

"Death can be easy or it can be utterly, devastatingly miserable.  It can be totally destructive of all dignity, privacy, and autonomy, much less comfort.  We have all seen it," writes Rowe.  "I believe it to be morally, ethically, humanely, and mercifully unconscionable that a dying person must accept prolonged suffering if that individual does not wish it.  Yet this is the law in 47 of the United States [at the time of this writing] -- and the official position of the American Medical Association.  This sometimes is justified by the myth that physical and emotional suffering at the end of life can be controlled.  We all know that this is often not possible."  Disposing of the "slippery slope" argument, Rowe writes that, "This ignores the ability of people of intelligence and good will to write appropriate guidelines and laws to protect against such actions."

Noting that he himself is terminally ill and is choosing palliative care in hospice rather than chemotherapy, which "might offer a few months of extended existence, at the risk of spending it all sick from adverse effects", Rowe writes that he opts for a death that is as easy as possible.  "By easy I mean free of pain, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, incontinence, delirium, dyspnea, anxiety, and loss of autonomy, mobility, dignity, mental clarity, and the ability to enjoy any of the pleasures of life...I feel very lucky, right now, to live in Oregon.  I have completed the three-week approval procedure required under the Death With Dignity Act.  I have done this because it gives me great peace of mind."

Rowe concludes by writing, "Sometimes, for a dying patient, the option of an easy, assisted death is the most merciful, caring, and, I believe, ethical way to do that.  I personally also believe that if a person knows he is dying, he should not be forced to wait until the unpleasantness actually begins...If you agree with these ideas, consider asking your own state to join Oregon, Washington and Vermont...in giving those men and women who want it the choice of how they die.  Consider urging the AMA to reevaluate its position on physician-assisted death...This truly is a test of personal autonomy and freedom of belief."

Dr. Rowe died on November 11, 2014, in Medford, Oregon, with the aid of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act.  We are profoundly grateful to him.  The Op-Ed appeared on pages 877-878 of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), September 1, 2015, Volume 314, Number 9.  Subscribers to JAMA can access the full text online, and for the rest of us, zip on down to your local library.  Make copies and give them to your doctors !!!

September 2, 2015:  George Will endorses aid-in-dying !!!

In another sign that our movement continues to gain support, widely read and hugely influential conservative columnist George Will has endorsed aid-in-dying in a powerful op-ed in the Washington Post on August 28.

Dismissing worries that legalizing physician-assisted dying would lead to a "slippery slope" and a "further diminution of life's sanctity", Will offers these profound words:  "Life, however, is inevitably lived on multiple slippery slopes:  Taxation could become confiscation, police could become instruments of oppression, public education could become indoctrination, etc.  Everywhere and always, civilization depends on the drawing of intelligent distinctions."  Truer words were never said.

Read the full text here.

September 2, 2015:  California takes big step forward for aid-in-dying !!!

Our movement took a huge step forward yesterday, when the California End of Life Option Act was approved, 10 to 3, in the Public Health and Developmental Services Committee of the California Assembly.  George Eighmey of the Death With Dignity National Center reported that if all goes well, the bill will be approved by both houses of the California legislature by September 11.  Our tremendous gratitude to the thousands of volunteers, and all of the staff, with Compassion & Choices and the Death With Dignity National Center for making this happen.  We know how hard you're working.

Before the vote Assemblyman Mark Stone said, "I think our loved ones suffer when they don't need to,", and Assemblyman Luis Alejo said his father is going through a terminal illness and is concerned about the pain.  "It hurts seeing your own loved ones going through that," Alejo said.  Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman said that a similar measure approved seventeen years ago in Oregon has never had any problems:  "There has never been a lawsuit.  It has never been abused."  Former LAPD Detective Christy O'Donnell, terminally ill with lung cancer, said in tearful testimony that she wants the ability to choose how she dies.  "Now that I am at the end of my life, I don't have that same decision here in California" that she would have in Oregon.

Read the full story in the Los Angeles Times here.

August 9, 2015: 
Albany Times Union endorses aid-in-dying, and famed New York physician Dr. Peter Rogatz says physician aid-in-dying consistent with Hippocratic tradition to "do no harm". 

On July 5 the Albany Times-Union became the latest prominent newspaper to editorialize in favor of legalizing physician aid-in-dying, offering these profound words:  "We recognize that some people and religions view suicide as a sin, and suffering as a path to an affirmation of faith.  They're entitled to that view.  But such spiritual beliefs are far from universal.  They should not be used to hinder intelligent, compassionate laws that respect the right of suffering people, should they choose, to choose to die peacefully, with dignity, on their own terms."  Amen !!!!!

Writing on July 21 in the Albany Times-Union, famed physician Dr. Peter Rogatz provides this eloquent and profound analysis of physician aid-in-dying.

"The assertion [by a Catholic bishop] that allowing doctors to provide life-ending medications to dying patients 'would reverse the ancient Hippocratic oath to do no harm' .. is misleading and disingenuous...The physician who complies with a patient's plea for final release from dying under unbearable conditions is doing good, not harm, and his or her actions are surely consonant with the Hippocratic tradition.  Harm may result not only from the commission of a wrongful act but also from the omission of an act of mercy.  The world is changing and most physicians support aid in dying.  Doctors who provide life-ending medicines to dying patients to end suffering are practicing gentle, caring, patient-centered medicine."

Dr. Rogatz is the former director of the Long Island Jewish Medical Center and vice president of End of Life Choices New York.  Thank you Dr. Rogatz!

August 9, 2015:  Washington Post endorses aid-in-dying, and DC poll shows strong majority in favor

On June 23, the Washington Post editorial board strongly endorsed making aid-in-dying legal!  Five of the world's most influential English-language publications -- the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Economist, the Guardian, and now the Washington Post -- are now solidly on board.

Discussing fears of a "slippery slope", the Post writes:  "Oregon's 18 years of experience do not confirm any of these fears...The state collects data on each case, and there have been no reports of coerced or wrongly qualified assisted deaths.  The typical patient is about 71, suffering from terminal cancer, well-educated, with health insurance and enrolled in hospice."  The editorial concludes by saying, "Death with dignity laws need to be carefully thought out, written and monitored.  Oregon and the states that follow its example show that such care is possible.  We hope the rest of the nation catches up with this humane option for life's end."

Washington DC council member Mary Cheh has introduced an Oregon-style law for our nation's capital, and the Death With Dignity National Center reports that a new poll shows very strong support for the measure:  fully 67% of DC residents favor the bill, with 51% reporting that they favor it "strongly". 

For the Washington Post endorsement...
For the LA Times endorsement...
For the New York Times endorsement...
For The Economist endorsement...
For The Guardian endorsement...

August 2, 2015:  Profound words from Jane Fonda

"The past few years, I've made a real point of cozying up to death and making it a friend.  That's what I always do with things that frighten me.  I read about death, and I think about myself dying, and how I want it to be.  It helps me to plan.  If you know you want to have certain loved ones around you, then you have to live in a way that will have them there.  And you don't want important things going unsaid before you die.  Death is inevitable, so why not make peace with it?  I'm not scared of it at all." -- Jane Fonda, quoted in the AARP Magazine, "Real Possibilities" -- June/July 2015

July 27, 2015:  Medicare to cover end of life consultations

When explaining what our movement is all about, I often start by saying that we are part of a much broader effort to minimize suffering at end of life.  And the single most critical part of avoiding a bad death is clear communication. Patients and loved ones need to be much clearer about what medical treatments they do or don't want as death approaches, and doctors need to be much clearer about the likely benefits, risks and side effects of particular treatments.

So it's wonderful news that Medicare has announced plans to cover end of life consultations, and that the topic is getting so much attention.

Read all about it in the New York Times lead editorial on Sunday, July 26, "Helping Patients and Doctors Talk About Death", and in an op-ed in the Times on July 24 by hospice nurse Theresa Brown, "Choosing How We Die."

As Ms. Brown writes so eloquently:  "We all have only one life, and one death.  There is so much about our own life's end that we can't control; surely we deserve the chance to learn about and plan for the part that we can."  Amen !!!

July 26, 2015:  Powerful video in "The Guardian" of plaintiff in New York lawsuit

In a further sign of how powerful and international our movement has become, the influential British newspaper The Guardian published a video interview on July 22 with Steve Goldenberg, who is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit in New York state that aims to legalize aid-in-dying.

Mr. Goldenberg is in bad shape.  He has throat cancer, AIDS, spinal stenosis.  Unassisted, he can neither breathe nor eat any longer, and he required both a breathing tube and a feeding tube.  He wants his physician to be able to prescribe life-ending medication, that he will take if his suffering becomes unbearable to him. 

"If I get to see spring, I'll be lucky," Goldenberg says, adding "I feel that we treat our animals better than we treat our people."

The Guardian is extremely influential, and widely read online by people around the world.  This video is tremendous good news for our cause, both in Britain and in the US.

Watch the video here:
http://www.theguardian.com/society/video/2015/jul/22/physician-assisted-dying-rights-new-york-steve-goldenberg-video

And read all about the lawsuit at the website of End of Life Choices of New York.

June 27, 2015:  'The Economist' endorses aid-in-dying

In a strongly-worded editorial on the cover of the June 27 issue, the hugely influential British newsmagazine The Economist made it plain:  "Doctors should be allowed to help the suffering and terminally ill die when they choose."  Rejecting arguments against legalizing aid-in-dying, the editors offered this profound statement:  "In a secular society, it is odd to buttress the sanctity of life in the abstract by subjecting a lot of particular lives to unbearable pain, misery and suffering.  And evidence from places that have allowed assisted dying suggests that there is no slippery slope...In fact, the evidence leads to the conclusion that most of the schemes for assisted dying should be bolder."  Read it here! The issue also included a lengthy article titled "Final Certainty", covering every aspect of our movement.  It's a very hopeful sign that change will be coming to Britain soon!

June 4, 2015:  The California Senate has passed SB 128, the End of Life Option Act !!!

The June 4th vote was by a strong 23 to 14 majority, and comes shortly after the California Medical Association announced that it is officially "neutral" on the bill.  The CMA thus became the first state medical association to drop its opposition to physician aid-in-dying.  Even better, the language of the CMA statement makes clear that the organization's leadership supports the bill.  And the Los Angeles Times issued a ringing endorsement of the bill in its editorial pages on May 22.  Read all about it at the Death With Dignity National Center, the California Medical Association and the Los Angeles Times editorial and news story.

June, 2015:  We're Changing Our Name:  Hemlock of Illinois is becoming Final Options Illinois

From our letter explaining why:  "Suffering at end of life is often extreme, and palliative care can be limited:  Nobody must ever be encouraged or coerced to hasten their death.  But the CHOICE to do so must become a basic human right.  Anything else is barbarism.  That's why we're renaming ourselves as Final Options Illinois.  That's what it's about -- providing suffering people with choices at end of life.

March 15, 2015:  The New York Times endorses Aid-In-Dying laws

Our nation's most prestigious newspaper made clear in its lead editorial on March 15 that it supports the passage of legislation legalizing aid-in-dying.  Entitled, "Offering A Choice to the Terminally Ill", the editorial quotes radio host Diane Rehm, describing the final suffering of her husband John, "For him to go out that way, not being able to do anything for himself, was an insufferable indignity."  It notes bills now being considered in fifteen states, and urges legislators to "consider how successfully and responsibly the law has been carried out in Oregon", recognizing the laws "layers of protection."  It's a true milestone.

February 6, 2015:  Canadian Supreme Court legalizes aid-in-dying for the entire country

The Canadian Supreme Court ruled unanimously on February 6 that Canadians have a fundamental human right to physician aid-in-dying at end of life.  The court gave the national and provincial legislatures a year to craft legislation implementing its ruling.  This court decision and the wonderful law passed in Quebec in June 2014 mean that soon all Canadians will have the right to aid-in-dying at life's end.  Read about it on CBC News, at Dying With Dignity Canada, at the New York Times, and at the Death With Dignity National Center.  The video of reactions to the ruling at CBC News is especially worth watching.

February 3, 2015:  Lawsuit filed to establish the right to aid-in-dying in New York State

A group of doctors and terminally ill patients are asking New York courts to declare that physician aid-in-dying is legal.  The lawsuit contents that current laws against "assisting in a suicide" are intended to prevent someone from, for instance, helping a lovesick teenager commit suicide, but not to stop a doctor from helping a mentally competent, terminally ill patient die.  The lead counsel in the case is Kathryn Tucker, executive director of the Disability Rights Legal Center, and one of the plaintiffs is famed physician Dr. Timothy Quill.  For more information, read the Feb 3 article in the New York Times, and visit End of Life Choices New York.

January 30, 2015:  We're on radio station WNUR

We were on radio station WNUR on January 30, in a lengthy piece by reporter Julia Jacobs.  With extensive quotes from ACLU attorney Khadine Bennett, Hemlock of Illinois members Lynn and Court Lawson, and HOI president Ed Gogol.

January 8, 2015:  Famed physician Dr. Marcia Angell publishes most wonderful article in the New York Review of Books

Not to be missed!  "A Better Way Out", the new review by the famed physician Dr. Marcia Angell of Atul Gawande's book, Being Mortal, in the January 8 issue of the New York Review of Books.  Decisively refutes concerns that establishing the right to aid-in-dying would supplant palliative care, and calls for establishing the right to euthanasia for patients in the final agonies of the dying process.

December 16, 2014:  New survey shows majority of US doctors now support the right to aid-in-dying

Medscape reports that for the first time, a clear majority of US physicians support physician aid-in-dying.  A poll of 21,000 doctors showed 56% in favor, up from 46% only four years ago.  The percentage opposed was 31%, down from 41% four years ago, with the remainder answering "it depends".  Famed medical ethicist Arthur Caplan, head of bioethics at New York University, says "It represents a remarkable shift...If physician opposition continues to weaken, it is likely that despite fierce resistance...more states will follow Oregon, Washington and Vermont and legalize."  Read all about it at NBC News and read the survey results at Medscape.

December 15, 2014:  We're on the cover of The Humanist magazine

We're on the cover of The Humanist magazine, with a powerful article in the January 2015 issue about the World Federation Conference, and featuring extensive quotes from Hemlock of Illinois president Ed Gogol, Hemlock of Illinois members Lynn and Court Lawson, author Derek Humphry, senior medical director for Final Exit Network Dr. Richard MacDonald, Canadian legislator Veronique Hivon, Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown South Africa Desmond Tutu, and South African activist Sean Davison.  Also see the Editor's Note:  A Watershed Moment for Death With Dignity, by editor-in-chief Jennifer Bardi.

December, 2014:  Great article about New Jersey appears in RH Reality Check

Worth reading:  New Jersey's New Bill May Indicate Changing Views Toward Death With Dignity, on the website of RH Reality Check, on December 4, 2014.

November, 2014:  We're in Chicago Lawyer

At The Movies With The Right-To-Die Society
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  a very good article about the conference, the cause, Hemlock of Illinois and our draft bill appeared in Chicago Lawyer on November 1, 2014.

October, 2014:  Archbishop Desmond Tutu endorses aid-in-dying

Two of our favorite new videos:  the welcoming statement by Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown South Africa Desmond Tutu to the delegates to the World Federation Conference, on the website of Dignity South Africa; and South African activist Sean Davison returning home after his prosecution in New Zealand for helping his mother die.  Powerful stuff!

October, 2014:  Thank you, Brittany Maynard !

Thank you, Brittany Maynard, the courageous California woman with aggressive brain cancer who moved to Oregon to take advantage of that state's wonderful death-with-dignity law.  By going public with her story she advanced our cause tremendously, by showing how right and important it is.  Read and watch all about Brittany's story! and watch her October 14 interview on CBS Morning NewsRead her stories at People Magazine and at Yahoo Health, at Time Magazine and The New Yorker, and her obituary in the New York Times.

October, 2014:  Thank you, Barbara Mancini !

There was a wonderful story about Barbara Mancini on CBS "Sixty Minutes" program on October 19, 2014.  Mancini is the Pennsylvania nurse who was absurdly and unjustly prosecuted after handing her dying father his pain medicine. Fortunately the case was dismissed last February.  Watch the story on 60 Minutes, and watch Ms. Mancini's companion video for Compassion and Choices.  Highly recommended.

October, 2014:  We're in the New York Times

We're in the New York Times on Sunday, October 19, 2014, with a letter urging conservatives to support the right to aid-in-dying.  "A principled conservatism supports individual rights, and there's no right more fundamental than the right of the terminally ill to control the manner and the timing of their death."

September, 2014:  The World Federation comes to Chicago

It happened in September 2014 in Chicago -- the 20th Biennial Conference of the World Federation of Right To Die SocietiesActivists came from all around the world.  Proceedings were videotaped and are available here.

September, 2014:  We're on Chicago Tonight

Ed Gogol, president of Hemlock of Illinois, was on WTTW's "Chicago Tonight" program on September 24, 2014, advocating for the the right to death with dignity.  Watch the full 11-minute video here:
http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2014/09/24/end-life-decisions

And we were on "Chicago Tonight" again on October 7, 2014.  Not on the program itself, but on the accompanying web page, commenting on a recent article by Ezekiel Emanuel, "Why I Hope To Die at 75".  It's at:
http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2014/10/07/there-ideal-age-die

September, 2014:  We're in the Chicago Tribune

There was an important article about the conference and our cause in the Chicago Tribune on September 17, 2014Featuring important quotes from Hemlock of Illinois board member Deborah Landis, and a moving three-minute video interview with Hemlock of Illinois members Lynn and Court Lawson.  Don't miss!

September, 2014:  Canadian legislator Veronique Hivon is on Worldview

Veronique Hivon was interviewed on WBEZ's Worldview program in September, 2014.  Ms. Hivon is a member of the legislature of the Canadian province of Quebec and the chief sponsor of the wonderful new death with dignity law in Quebec.  Listen to the informative broadcast here:
https://soundcloud.com/wbez-worldview/canada-considers-right-to-die-policies

June 5, 2014:  Canadian province of Quebec passes groundbreaking death-with-dignity law

The Quebec bill was passed on June 5, 2014, by an overwhelming majority.
Read all about it...

Here's the full text of the bill...
Here's the full text of the March 2012 report of the Quebec legislature select committee on dying with dignity...

December, 2013:  A Doctor's View of Death With Dignity

On Sunday December 8, 2013, Hemlock of Illinois presented "A Doctor's View of Death With Dignity", featuring Dr. Jorge del Castillo, Dr. Dan Fintel, and Dr. Daniel G. Samo.  Here's the flyer for the event...
The panel addressed the question, what should a physician do when palliative care is no longer providing adequate relief and there are no more reasonable treatment options?  How do doctors feel about the laws now in effect in the states of Oregon, Washington and Vermont?  It was an exciting discussion by three outstanding Chicago-area doctors.  Click here to read the full transcript, and you can listen to the entire program right here:

(You can click on the link to play the mp3 file right in your browser, or point to it, click your right-mouse button, and select "Save target as" or "Save link as".  Then you can save the file to your computer and double-click on it to open it in any music player such as Windows Media Player or Apple iTunes.)