Compassion & Choices is the nation’s oldest, largest and most active nonprofit working to improve care and expand options for the end of life. In our more than 30 years, we have united over 450,000 supporters nationwide to become the preeminent leader of the end-of-life care movement.
Compassion & Choices works at all levels of government and medicine nationwide to transform end-of-life care, with informed, empowered patients leading the way.
How we live the final chapter of our lives, and how we die, are among our most deeply personal experiences. While it’s our right to decide how much or how little treatment we want, our current healthcare system often robs us of this right. Providers may fail to provide complete information about the benefits and burdens of treatment options, preventing patients from making fully informed decisions about their own care.
Compassion & Choices is leading the way to transform our “one-size-fits-all” healthcare system, which causes so much needless pain and suffering, into one that puts people in charge of their own end-of-life care. We envision a patient-driven system that honors an individual’s values, religious views and spiritual beliefs. We are working toward an America that respects everyone’s right to make our own healthcare decisions, in consultation with doctors and loved ones — including intentional death if pain and suffering become too great. We advocate for the full range of options to ensure everyone can die in peace and with dignity.
Despite sophisticated medical advances — and sometimes because of them — too many people suffer painful, drawn-out deaths against their wishes. At Compassion & Choices, we are fighting to broaden end-of-life options and place control back in the hands of people.
We have advocated the right to refuse unwanted medical treatment … legitimized the use of advance directives … and secured people’s right to receive the full measure of pain medication needed for relief.
Beginning with Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act in 1997, we have been instrumental to the passage of every medical aid-in-dying law in the nation. These laws allow terminally ill adults to request medication to die gently if they choose. As of 2018, we’ve succeeded in seven states and Washington, D.C.
We will not rest until every American has access to the full range of options.
Protecting Those Options
It’s a huge challenge to achieve these historic advances. But once we succeed, our work is still far from over. Compassion & Choices vigilantly defends against opponents who relentlessly seek to undo all our progress. This includes efforts to repeal legislation or to file lawsuits that seek to place religious doctrine above a patient’s expressed wishes.
Through comprehensive political, legal and educational efforts, Compassion & Choices protects our progress and works to make patient autonomy the standard of medical care.
Implementing the Law
Protected healthcare options have little value if those who need them don’t know about them, don’t understand them or can’t access them. That’s why Compassion & Choices leads robust implementation campaigns to educate the public and healthcare community about medical aid in dying laws in authorized states. We encourage healthcare systems to adopt policies supportive of patient autonomy. We promote early implementation of newly enacted laws. And ultimately we integrate medical aid in dying into standard healthcare practice so people can access it through their own doctors and in their preferred medical setting.
Through our work, we are transforming our nation’s healthcare system to put patients firmly in charge of their own decisions about end-of-life care.
Navigating the healthcare system can be daunting. Considering and discussing our own mortality is difficult for most. But both are crucial to ensuring we live as we wish during the final chapter of our lives and die in as much comfort as possible. Through our online End-of-Life Information Center and Truth in Treatment initiative, we provide tools, like our Dementia Provision, Diagnosis Decoder and Trust Card, to help people communicate clearly with providers, take charge of their healthcare and achieve a peaceful death. We also offer free, confidential telephone consultations with trained experts. This direct support, combined with our broader efforts to create lasting change, embody our fundamental goal: to improve everyone’s end-of-life experience.