Compassion & Choices is the United States’ oldest, largest and most active nonprofit working to improve care, expand options and empower everyone to chart their end-of-life journey.
What is Medical Aid in Dying?
Medical aid in dying allows terminally ill adults to request and receive a prescription for medication that they may choose to take to bring about a peaceful death. To qualify, one must be mentally capable, able to self-ingest the medication and have a prognosis of six months or less to live.
Where is Medical Aid in Dying Authorized?
Medical aid in dying is currently authorized in ten U.S. jurisdictions: Oregon (1994), Washington (2008), Montana (2009), Vermont (2013), California (2015), Colorado (2016), the District of Columbia (2016), Hawai‘i (2018), New Jersey (2019) and Maine (2019).
How do Americans Feel About Medical Aid in Dying?
About 7 in 10 Americans support medical aid in dying across three different surveys — a May 2017 Gallup poll, a September 2016 LifeWay Research poll and a November 2014 Harris poll. Support is strong across most demographic groups. The practice also claims majority support among people who attend church, people of all ideological views (conservatives, moderates and liberals), people from both political parties and all races and ethnicities. Support has nearly doubled since Gallup first polled on the question in 1947.
Who Advocates for Medical Aid in Dying?
People who volunteer their time to advocate for medical aid in dying come from all walks of life and all corners of the United States.
Brittany Maynard (1984-2014) was a terminally ill twenty-nine-year-old woman who fought for medical aid-in-dying legislation for California after moving to Oregon to access the option. After carefully researching and vetting all the organizations that work on this issue, Brittany and her husband, Dan Diaz, chose to partner with Compassion & Choices to promote and publicize Brittany’s story.
Miguel Carrasquillo (1980-2016) was a chef from Puerto Rico who died at age 35 from an aggressive form of brain cancer on June 5, 2016, while advocating for medical aid in dying. Miguel wrote this a few days before his death and asked that it be shared with lawmakers from across the nation in the hope that his story could help give others the option for a peaceful death he wanted for himself.
What Other Organizations Support Medical Aid in Dying?
A growing number of national and state medical organizations and others have endorsed or adopted a neutral position regarding medical aid in dying as an end-of-life option for mentally capable, terminally ill adults. These organizations include:
- The American Medical Women’s Association;
- The American Medical Student Association;
- The American Public Health Association;
- GLMA (Health Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality);
- The American College of Legal Medicine;
- and The Unitarian Universalist Association.
How Do Qualified Individuals Access Medical Aid in Dying in Authorized Jurisdictions?
The video below, featuring Compassion & Choices Medical Director Doctor David Grube, provides information on medical aid in dying for people with terminal illness.
Please consult with your doctor and medical team about end-of-life care and options, including medical aid in dying. Compassion & Choices does not provide medical or legal advice. This video is intended for general informational purposes only and could not be used or relied upon for medical or legal advice.
Where Can I Find Even More Information on Medical Aid in Dying?
You can access a series of informative fact sheets at Compassion & Choices’ online resource center, including:
- Frequently Asked Questions on Medical Aid in Dying and the End-of-Life Choice Movement
- The History of the End-of-Life Choice Movement
- Medical Aid in Dying Data Book
- Frequently Asked Questions for Faith Leaders
Ready to ‘Reimagine’ End-of-Life Care Options That Include Medical Aid in Dying in Your State?
Make sure you sign up for email updates from Compassion & Choices to find out how you can take action in support of the movement to expand and protect end-of-life care options in your state and across the United States.