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John Radcliffe, 1942-2020

The movement for end-of-life options lost another stellar advocate earlier this month.

John Radcliffe spent his life and career in Hawaii advocating for others, including fighting for better working conditions for the state’s teachers — and for the right to medical aid in dying. He was a well known and respected lobbyist who could reach across the aisle and garnered adoration from everyone he met, from lawmakers to Compassion & Choices staff. 

His name became synonymous with the fight to pass medical aid-in-dying legislation in Hawaii when he came out of retirement to lobby for the Our Care Our Choice Act, which was ultimately successful in 2018. Though he’d been diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2014, John spent countless hours at the state Capitol, meeting with legislators and testifying in front of committees. He told lawmakers he planned to utilize the law himself once passed.

“John went to bat for the movement over and over again,” said his friend Susan Prior, a Compassion & Choices staff member. “He was not only instrumental in getting the law passed, he worked to ensure access to the law for all Hawaii residents.” 

After it took more than two months from him to secure an aid-in-dying prescription, he was determined to help other terminally ill people avoid this delay. Even in his last days, John was on the phone pressing policymakers to amend the law.

Kim Callinan, Compassion & Choices President and CEO, spoke about John at a recent Hawaii Town Hall event, saying “John’s remarkable strength and tenacity leading up to the passage of the Our Care, Our Choice Act and beyond is a reminder every day of the magnitude just one person’s contributions can have. Together, with John as our role model and guide, we will prevail.”

Learn about other invaluable advocates on our Stories page.


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