Women’s History Month 2022: Sharing Stories
Mar 31, 2022
Barbara Coombs Lee
Women's History Month
My advocacy for end-of-life options is rooted in nursing. As a nurse, I bore witness to many end-of-life stories, both agonized and tranquil. I came to understand that dying people and their families need truthful information and support for decisions that are right for them. Patients were my greatest teachers and medical providers showed me by example how to wed knowledge and empathy and provide compassionate care to dying patients and their families.
Some remarkable women have affirmed end-of-life options as an urgent need for terminally ill people. I think of Patty Berg, a California legislator who advocated tirelessly for a medical aid-in-dying law. In her own words, she said, “my whole stance was that it was about choice, it was about protecting privacy, it was about civil rights and it was about separation of church and state.” Patty never saw her bill pass, but her contributions are undeniable and her early advocacy was indispensable to eventual passage of the California End of Life Options Act.
This Women’s History Month, Compassion & Choices celebrates the contributions of women to the movement for end-of-life options. Women have an intimate relationship with the cycles of life, cradle to grave. They discuss these naturally with their families and give each other strength in times of grief. Thanks to many strong women, working throughout the nation, our movement has helped improve end-of-life care dramatically for everyone.
I am inspired to see people from diverse communities engaging with Compassion & Choices in ever greater numbers. Every person who shares their story and becomes an advocate moves us closer to a society that empowers individuals and families at life’s end. Do you have an experience that shaped your interest in end-of-life choice? Share it here.