updated June 7, 2017
Final Options Illinois
815-366-7942 or 224-565-1500
1055 W. Bryn Mawr #F212
Chicago IL 60660-4692
Options Illinois on YouTube
Illinois End of Life Options Coalition
Compassion and Choices
Death With Dignity National Center
Final Exit Network
ERGO -- website of Hemlock Society
founder Derek Humphry
Dying With Dignity Canada
- June 7, 2017: "The
End -- A Parting Gift -- The Death and Life of John Shields".
Front-page New York Times story makes clear the overwhelming
importance of medical aid in dying
Here's another major milestone for our movement: the
publication of a very long (more than six full newspaper pages)
front-page story in the New York Times on Sunday, May 25, 2017,
profiling John Shields, a distinguished Canadian dying from
amyloidosis, who took advantage of Canada's new medical aid in
dying law and ended his life peacefully last March.
The Canadian law went into effect in
June 2016, and in its first six month, 803 people used
it. The article describes its features:
"Participants must be adults who are in an advanced state of a
'grievous and irremediable medical condition.' Their
suffering must be intolerable and their natural death
'reasonably forseeable' ... Patients must also be deemed
mentally capable of consenting to the procedure moments before
These features are similar to the US
laws, and like the US laws, the Canadian law allows a doctor
to provide medications which the patient will self-administer
to end their life. But the Canadian law also allows the
doctor to directly administer the medications. Nearly
everyone chooses doctor administration, the article
notes. (Editors note: not surprising.)
Mr. Shields' doctor, Stephanie Green,
explained why medical aid in dying is a blessing: "'You
don't judge a civilization by its riches, but by how it treats
its vulnerable ... I think this is a mark of our
humanity.' She's never understood doctors who say
offering lethal medicine goes against their training. 'I
think people go into medicine because they want to help
people,' she said. 'This is on the continuum of care of
Mr. Shields is quoted explaining why
he was ending his life: "No matter how I looked at it, I
saw pain. No matter how I looked at my life from this
moment on, I see personal, physical unbearable
suffering. I don't want to suffer anymore." He
died with courage and beauty, an example and a lesson to us
all. Thank you, John Shields, thank you, Dr. Stephanie
Green, and thank you to the brave legislators and wise jurists
of Canada who have given us this wonderful law.
- April 13, 2017: "It's a beautiful law, a helpful
law, a psychologically comforting law." Watch
this video of Californian Ray Perman in the Chicago Tribune:
"Faced with terminal illness, man chooses end-of-life option"
- It's from the Chicago
Tribune on April 4, and features a moving, informative and
fascinating video of Ray Perman, a 64 year old
Californian suffering with advanced metastatic prostate
cancer. A longer article appeared in the Tribune
print edition on April 12.
"As soon as my oncologist told me that there was nothing more
that medicine could do for me, my very next words, because I was
so interested in this, was to say that I would like to go with
the End of Life Options Act," said Mr. Perman. "I
want everyone to know that it's a beautiful law, a helpful
law, a psychologically comforting law, not just for you as a
patient, but for all the people around you. It's a
monumental, favorable step towards quality of life.
And no one's pushing you down any pipeline, you can get off any
Mr. Perman died peacefully in February with the aid of the
wonderful new California End of Life Option Act. Thank
you, Ray! You have done a great service. Thank you,
& Choices, for making this wonderful video.
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
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
At The End of Life", by Elaine McArdle, in UU World, April
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
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
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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
- 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
- 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
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
Barbara Coombs Lee, president of the national
& 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,
Post, the Denver
Channel, and the Washington
June 21, 2016: Aid in dying is now legal throughout
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
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
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
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
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.
new law, medical aid-in-dying is now available to sixteen
percent of Americans.
We urgently need to make this a fundamental human
Read all about it in the June 10th
issue of the New York Times!
Allan, 63, suffering for seven years with advanced colon
cancer, explains her decision to take advantage of the new
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.”
Dr. Lonny Shavelson explains how he will counsel his doctor
colleagues to be comfortable with new law:
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
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
Death With Dignity!
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
now, on June 6, the Canadian Supreme Court’s ruling took
effect, meaning that previously existing laws banning
aid-in-dying no longer apply.
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
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
- 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
October 18, 2015: Powerful article "The Last Choice" in
Time Magazine promotes aid-in-dying
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
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."
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
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.
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
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
- 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
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
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
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
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."
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
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.
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."
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
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.
- 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
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
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,
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.
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
2015: American Medical Association -- The wall starts to
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
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.
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.
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".
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
"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
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
the Washington Post endorsement...
the LA Times endorsement...
the New York Times endorsement...
The Economist endorsement...
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
July 27, 2015: Medicare to cover end of life
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
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
Watch the video here:
And read all about the lawsuit at the website of End of Life Choices of
June 27, 2015: 'The Economist' endorses
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
Certainty", covering every aspect of our movement.
It's a very hopeful sign that change will be coming to Britain
June 4, 2015: The California Senate
has passed SB 128, the End of Life Option Act !!!
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
- 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
March 15, 2015: The New York Times endorses Aid-In-Dying
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
- 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,
3 article in the New York Times, and visit End of Life Choices New
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
- 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
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
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: 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
Two of our favorite new
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;
African activist Sean Davison returning home after his
prosecution in New Zealand for helping his mother die.
- 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 News!
Read 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
Watch the story on 60 Minutes, and watch
Ms. Mancini's companion video for Compassion and Choices.
- 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
It happened in September 2014 in
Chicago -- the 20th
Biennial Conference of the World Federation of Right To
Die Societies. Activists came from all
around the world. Proceedings were videotaped and are
- 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:
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:
- September, 2014: We're in the Chicago
was an important article about the conference and our
cause in the Chicago Tribune on September 17, 2014.
Featuring 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
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:
- 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
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.)