Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Aid in Dying on Network TV.

Barbara Coombs Lee, Gary Blick and Stewart Lane will be on Anderson Cooper 360 tonight. The email from Compassion and Choices where Coombs Lee is president:

While still taboo for many families, increasingly our nation is engaging in a thoughtful, often difficult, dialogue about end-of-life choice. This shift is evidenced by the vigor and reach of public discussion surrounding this weekend's release of You Don't Know Jack, an HBO film about the life of Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

The truth is, many dying patients suffer, even with adequate care and pain management. Others fear that their pain will become unbearable. Unable to talk openly with their physicians about a range of legal, safe, peaceful options to ease a painful dying process, desperate patients look to guns and other violent options to end their lives. Or they ask physicians to work secretly outside the law.

Compassion & Choices advocates that all mentally competent, terminally ill patients should have a full range of end-of-life choices, including aggressive pain and symptom management, palliative sedation, voluntarily stopping eating and drinking, forgoing life-extending interventions and aid in dying.

You may be interested in watching CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 tonight where I was invited to be the voice of Compassion & Choices' supporters in a conversation about our landmark Blick v. Connecticut case. We represent two physicians, Gary Blick and Ron Levine, who are asking a Connecticut court to rule that the state's assisted-suicide statute does not reach their conduct in providing aid in dying to their terminally ill patients. Joined on Anderson Cooper 360 by Dr. Gary Blick and his patient Stewart Lane, I asserted that without a rational public discussion that includes aid in dying as a medical standard of care, covert aid in dying would continue.

Dr. Kevorkian recognized this need, and drew the national and international spotlight to the desperation of patients whose current legal choices are inadequate. His actions raised public awareness and highlighted major public policy problems. As in every movement for social change, there are provocateurs and persuaders.

Compassion & Choices works within the law, using education and advocacy to advance a vision where all Americans can live and die as free people, in dignity and according to their own values. We believe patients should be able to talk with their physicians about legal, safe, peaceful options for easing a painful dying process

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