Report on Compassion and Choices Informational Session on End of Life Issues

Resident Mary Bird submits the report below on a presentation given last Thursday afternoon in the Auditorium.  Special thanks to her, the speakers, and the organizers of the session.

Collington’s resident Health Services Committee sponsored a talk by COMPASSION and CHOICES on May 19, 2016 in the auditorium. For the past two years, legislation has been introduced in the Maryland House of Delegates to expand the options for people in the final months before their expected deaths in ways similar to legislation in Oregon, California, Missouri, and New York. Even though the 2016 bill had 45 co-sponsors in Maryland, it was withdrawn from the Committee after hearings were held.  As with any legislation, it can be assumed that legislators would welcome their constituents’ views on any re-introduced bill.

Speakers Ellen Dinerman and Jim Perdue presented slides showing statistics from polls taken and also presented information on four legal options dying people already have.

The new fifth option, advocated in the bill, would apply only if two doctors determine a person has six months or less to live, and the person him or herself requests, orally and in writing, a prescription which might end pain and suffering more rapidly. The procedure embodied in the legislation has many checks and limitations. For instance, only the patient, not a family member nor care giver nor even a doctor, can request the aid. The patient must be fully competent to make the request.

After the talk, and question and answer period, a documentary movie, How To Die In Oregon, was shown.  The film tracked several patients through end-of-life decisions and included commentary from doctors with varying points of view.

Here is the PowerPoint that they speakers presented.  It summarizes current law and the prior Maryland legislative proposal.

Note: As always, this post, the presentation, and the document are not necessarily the views of Collington, the resident association, or other associated groups.


2 thoughts on “Report on Compassion and Choices Informational Session on End of Life Issues

  1. The proposed law also requires the terminally ill patient to self-administer the medication IF he or she decides to ingest it.

    The 4 states which have passed a Death with Dignity or End of Life Option Act are Oregon, Washington, Vermont and California. Montana’s court has determined that physicians who provide a prescription for life-ending medication to terminally ill, cognitively competent , suffering patients who request it will not be prosecuted.

  2. I think it is worth saying that the current FOUR methods of end-of-life decisions we all have at present are based on PERSONNAL AUTONOMY:
    1) Increasing pain meds ( despite possible ” dual effect”) ;
    2) withdrawal of treatment of curative intent but maintaining Palliative Care; 3) Terminal Sedation with fluid and nutrition withdrawal ;
    4) Voluntary cessation of food and liquid.
    Very often in actuality it may be a mixture or combination of these methods.

    So the # 5 approach is the subject of this legislation where the purpose is to allow the individual to take action to relieve their terminal care suffering before vital functions have degraded unto death. Although the Supreme Court recognizes that the # 5 option is very consistent with options # 1 -4 they wished to return the topic to the states for possible legislation rather than making a decision based on Civil Rights and the Constitution. Although this view is understandable it has condemned the whole US population to many hundreds of thousands of hours of unnecessary suffering.

    We have been asked by the C & C organization to form a small group of legislative advocates to join their team for Maryland as we enter the next legislative cycle. Anyone interested please contact me or Denise Bunting co-chairs of the Health Services Committee.

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