In 2015 CSLA’s Annual Membership Summit’s priority legislation was SB 128 End of Life Options.
Fran Johns, Pam Fadem, Diana Madoshi, Meredith Minkler and Rick Kaplowitz are CSLA members who have been working on SB 128 since the late 90’s. We are proud that California’s End of Life law was passed. The determination of volunteer groups like CSLA, was spearheaded by the Compassion & Choices Group. Compassion & Choices is the nation’s oldest and largest nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life. Countless volunteers, doctors, priests, members of the disability community and politicians, made a huge difference in getting this law passed. CSLA is proud to be counted among them.
Counting California, five states now have medical aid in dying laws and fully half of the remaining states have active campaigns in place to make this a reality in their states too. CSLA continues to work with Compassion & Choices on their Access Campaign, with strategic initiatives to educate people and making sure they understand their end-of-life-options. The new Law goes into effect June 9, 2016. At the request of a terminally ill patient with less than 6 months to live, a doctor, with the agreement of a second doctor, can legally prescribe a lethal dose of a barbiturate to a patient who then can self-administer the dose, if and when, the time comes.
But the work isn’t done. Because as Compassion and Choices members remind us, it takes a campaign to get aid-in-dying passed and signed into law, but it also takes a campaign to turn that new law into a truly accessible end-of-life option for people throughout the state. Compassion and Choices spearheading an Access Campaign, twin strategic initiatives, headed by volunteers, like CSLA senior leaders, to educate people by talking about their values and beliefs and making sure they understand their end of life options. Another part of the access campaign involves educating doctors, and this happens best when individuals like CSLA senior leaders, talk with their doctors about personal end of life wishes, and then ask the doctor if he or she would be comfortable honoring written wishes, in accordance with the new law. This is critical, because Oregon’s experience has shown that doctors often don’t fully understand the new law or feel comfortable bring end of life options up to patients.
Too often many patients wait until after the are in extreme pain to initiate the conversation with their doctor, Compassion and Choses began a very successful access campaign in Oregon, which now has far more health care providers participating and manly more patients speaking up about their end of life wishes. CSLA is participating in a similar access campaign in California, helping with the education needed for effective implementation.
This is an opportunity for any CSLA member who is interested in being involved to contact Compassion and Choices National Volunteer Manager via email at email@example.com or call (800) 247-7421. GET INVOLVED!!