OPINIÓN: Dolores Huerta sigue su lucha en favor de las opciones de cuidados de fin de vida

May 17, 2022

This opinion was published in the Los Angeles Times en Español on Tuesday, May 17, 2022:

“..El apoyo de Dolores Huerta fue fundamental para que se aprobara el End of Life Option Act de California en el 2015, y el Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act en el estado de Nuevo México. Estas leyes brindan a los adultos con enfermedades terminales que se encuentran en pleno uso de sus facultades mentales y que tienen un pronóstico de vida de seis meses o menos, la opción de solicitar una receta médica para obtener un medicamento para auto ingerir, para terminar pacíficamente con el sufrimiento insoportable.

Dolores Huerta no sólo apoyó las medidas de ley compasivas con editoriales y videos grabados en inglés y en español, sobre la dolorosa muerte de su madre, sino que también se unió a Compassion & Choices en conferencias de prensas, campañas en varios estados, movilizaciones y mítines con legisladores que se mostraban renuentes a apoyar medidas de ayuda médica para morir, especialmente legisladores católicos y latinos.”

María Otero and Dolores Huerta smiling at the camera, standing next to each other.

Más aquí: https://www.latimes.com/espanol/opinion/articulo/2022-05-17/opinion-dolores-huerta-sigue-su-lucha-en-favor-de-las-opciones-de-cuidados-de-fin-de-vida

English version:

A Global Pandemic Can’t Stop Dolores Huerta from Fighting for End-of-Life Care Options

By Maria Otero, Latino Outreach Director, Compassion & Choices

As a child, I watched my father fight for injustice in the face of inequality and oppression. Standing with him in those picket lines was a young Dolores Huerta with a sign featuring a hopeful slogan “SI SE PUEDE” (“Yes We Can”). These words not only empowered Latino farm workers in California, they led to a labor rights movement that altered the course of American history.

 More than 50 years after this historic victory, nuestra gente (our people) continue to face inequities at the end of life – a cause that the legendary rights activist is passionate about because of her mother’s painful death to cancer, one that I am honored to represent.

For the last seven years, Dolores Huerta has been one of the most vocal leaders to advance Compassion & Choices’ mission of improving and expanding healthcare options at the end of life. The disproportionate deaths and healthcare disparities among Latinos during the peak of the pandemic has made the issue even more urgent for Dolores.

“This issue is very personal for me. I watched my mother die in agony from breast cancer, so I know firsthand about the desperate need for expanded healthcare options at the end of life,” Dolores stated in an editorial published in La Opinion in Los Angeles and El Diario, New York. “One of my most rewarding experiences has been standing up for terminally ill Latinos/Hispanics who suffer disproportionately from healthcare disparities and improving their access to end-of-life care options to die peacefully, without unnecessary pain.”

Dolores’ support was critical in the passage of the End of Life Option Act in California in 2015 and the Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act in our native state of New Mexico in 2021. These laws give mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to request prescription medication they can decide to take to peacefully end unbearable suffering.

Dolores not only endorsed the compassionate bills with editorials and videos in English and Spanish about her mother’s painful death from cancer, she joined Compassion & Choices in news conferences, multi-state campaigns, rallies and meetings with reluctant legislators, particularly Catholic and Latino ones, who were sometimes reluctant to support medical aid-in-dying bills.

She was also instrumental in the success of SB 380, a bill that would improve access to California’s six-year-old medical aid-in-dying law by reducing the mandatory 15-day waiting period between the two requests for aid-in-dying medication to 48 hours. The improved law went into effect on New Year’s Day.

On May 25, Compassion & Choices will honor Dolores in Sacramento with the inaugural Dolores Huerta Mission and Vision Award for her dedication to improving care, expanding options at the end of life and commitment to terminally-ill Latinos in the United States. She will also be recognized for her commitment to a vision of a diverse, equitable and inclusive movement. A movement that recognizes that everyone should have access to a patient-directed, end-of-life experience, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity or age.

Dolores has earned numerous awards for her community service and advocacy for workers’ rights, including the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 1993 she became the first Latina inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame, and in 2020, she was named one of USA Today’s ‘Women of the Century.”

Dolores’ Support

I met Dolores Huerta in 2015. I saw her again in 2019, when she met with legislators in our state capitol in New Mexico to garner support for medical aid-in-dying legislation that was signed into law in 2021.

Working with Dolores on Compassion & Choices’ Latino Leadership Council has been an incredibly meaningful experience for this immigrant from Ciudad Juarez on the border with El Paso, Texas, whose books at New Mexico State University included full chapters on this living legend.

Dolores is still a force at 92, and not even a global pandemic can stop the legendary activist from being a powerful voice for Latinos at the end of their lives.

Maria Otero is an immigrant, community leader, public health educator, grassroots activist and the Latino Engagement Director for Compassion & Choices. 

Compassion & Choices
Media Contacts

Sean Crowley
Media Relations Director
[email protected]

Patricia A. González-Portillo
National Latino Media Director
[email protected]
(323) 819 0310

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