Illinois Compassionate Quarterly – Winter 2021
Jan 21, 2021 Illinois
Hello Friends of Compassion & Choices Illinois!
Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Illinois Compassionate Quarterly, an email publication written by, and for, friends of the rapidly growing end-of-life options movement in Illinois.
You will find information about recent and upcoming statewide and national events, and learn about what Illinois activists are doing. You will also learn about different opportunities for individual and community engagement: doing whatever you can to promote citizen involvement, conversations and connections that are essential for the widespread support of our work.
Illinois currently has nine Action Teams located throughout the state. Action Team members are volunteers that meet monthly to learn about issues surrounding end of life and to plan educational events and advocacy opportunities. Current teams are located in Champaign, Chicago, Evanston, McLean County, Northwest Suburbs, Oak Park and Western Suburbs, Northern Illinois, Southern Illinois, and Springfield. Before COVID, most activities took place in person; all events and meetings now take place remotely.
Recent Illinois activities have included a presentation by a funeral home director about green/natural burial options; advocacy training; and community presentations that focused on the importance of advance care planning and the need to understand one’s personal rights as well as personal responsibilities when entering the healthcare system. Members have also written Letters to the Editor for community newspapers. Some Action Teams have partnered with organizations (churches, an LBGTQ group, and libraries) to share C&C resources and host online book clubs. Another team developed an outreach campaign to introduce friends and colleagues to C&C resources, such as the Staying Stronger Together Webinar Series.
If you would like to join the movement, we welcome you to join a local group or to start a new one! Please contact Amy Sherman for more information.
Compassion & Choices is gearing up for a busy 2021! At the federal level, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Compassionate Care Act on December 10, 2020 to promote advance care planning and end-of-life care. Compassion & Choices assisted in the development of the bill and immediately endorsed this important legislation. We look forward to its re-introduction in the 2021 session. In addition, the Compassion & Choices federal policy team has submitted a letter to President-Elect Biden’s transition team with a wide range of recommendations about end-of-life care during the pandemic and beyond.
At the state level, we are anticipating over 20 medical aid-in-dying bills to be introduced this session. We have identified 10 states that we believe have the potential to authorize medical aid in dying within five years: Nevada, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware, Minnesota, New York, Virginia, and (yes!) Illinois. On November 9, 2020, 185 Compassion & Choices supporters participated in a virtual rally in support of the Massachusetts End of Life Options Act. The Massachusetts bill has passed out of the Public Health Committee.
Spotlight: Amy Sherman, Regional Campaign and Outreach Manager
1) How did your experience with your mother’s Alzheimer’s disease inform your work now with Compassion & Choices?
I managed my mom’s care throughout her long and heartbreaking journey with Alzheimer’s disease. When I learned of C&C, I thought, “Oh, how I wish I had known about these resources when my mom was alive.” Knowledge is power at the end of life.
2) If there were three critical points that activists should communicate to legislators and/or those undecided about medical aid in dying, what would they be?
Beyond the definition of what constitutes medical aid in dying, 7 out of 10 Americans support it across a wide demographic spectrum. Second, it is only available to the terminally ill and voluntary both for the individual and doctor. Third, suicide and medical aid in dying are fundamentally different. Finally, medical aid in dying reduces needless suffering for Illinoisans with terminal illnesses (okay, that’s four!).
3) Advocates in controversial movements must adopt more of a “long view” of things. How are you able to generate and maintain enthusiasm among supporters?
Fundamental change takes time. It takes patience, persistence and passion. I like to share with supporters how many years it took to pass legislation in authorized states. I also celebrate interim victories, of which there are many in Illinois.
As we head into the new year, we hope you will mark your calendars and join us for the following events. (Some events require pre-registration.)
- Wednesday, January 20, 2021 – “Documente Sus Deseos al Final de la Vida: Un Regalo Para Usted y Sus Seres Queridos,” sponsored by Howard Brown Health and featuring Maria Otero, National Latino Outreach Manager, Compassion & Choices via Facebook live (Spanish)
- Tuesday, January 26, 2021 – “Documenting Your Wishes at the End of Life: a Gift to Yourself and Your Loved Ones,” sponsored by Howard Brown Health and featuring Amy Sherman, Midwest Regional Campaign Manager, Compassion & Choices via Facebook live
Call for storytellers
One of the best ways to build this movement is to share our stories with each other. If you would like to read or share the struggles of navigating end-of-life options of your own or those of a loved one, click here.
“Finish Strong” Challenge
We are going through unprecedented times. In order to be well equipped in the face of this pandemic, review the Compassion & Choices COVID-19 Toolkit, complete the COVID-19 addendum and then share it with others you know and love.
Oh! Before You Go…
If you would like to become involved with C&C’s work in Illinois or would like to make suggestions for future newsletters, please email Amy Sherman, the Regional Campaign and Outreach Manager.
If you would like to remain on our mailing list but no longer wish to receive this newsletter, please click here.