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Note From the CEO: Dignity and Agency at Life’s End

Despite January’s difficult beginning, Kim Callinan offers hope and inspiration for advancing end-of-life care options in the new year.

Any new year offers the opportunity for rejuvenation and renewal. If you’re like me, however, you were stunned by the actions that took place at our U.S. Capitol in early January. I was horrified by what happened; at the same time, it reignited a fire in me about the importance of democracy, equality and the rule of law. 

Democracy is dignity. An end-of-life plan based on one’s own values and preferences that is thoughtfully carried out is dignity — and ultimately consistent with basic human rights standards. 

We continue to strengthen our voices and fight for agency at the end of life, beginning by setting in motion our plans to advocate for and advance legislation in more than a dozen states. However, this session is setting up to be like no other. Hearings thus far have been completely virtual. I for one miss the excitement and hustle-bustle the sessions usually convey. However, I’m thankful for the states that have or will introduce medical-aid-in dying legislation this year, despite lawmakers’ critical focus on the control and prevention of COVID-19, which continues to be a significant threat to the health and safety of our nation. 

We are also making our voices heard regarding the blatant disregard for individual preferences for end-of-life care within many religiously affiliated healthcare systems. The growth of these systems — governed by ethical and religious directives that dictate end-of-life care — is alarming, and leaves patients without the ability to access their preferred end-of-life care options.  

We can take nothing for granted. We have dusted ourselves off and are back to work. I have faith in our collective renewal and ability to galvanize our supporters and allies to expand options for end-of-life care and equity for all.

The injustices with regard to access to and delivery of quality end-of-life care must be put to rest. As volunteers, supporters, donors and allies, your efforts lead us to our next victory — thank you. 

Kim Callinan

@KimCallinan


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