Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Here’s an organization you may want to look into!
by Charlie Leck

As I press on toward seventy, I can’t help but think about that old rascal, Death. He’s visited too many of my old and dear friends for me to ignore him. I’m not frightened by him, mind you, just wary and suspicious.

That very thought reminds me that for some time I’ve been meaning to tell you about a non-profit organization called Compassion & Choices. Actually, I want to recommend it to you. Some time ago, the Hemlock Society, of which I was also a member, was allowed to die peacefully and was then cremated. From its ashes Compassion & Choices rose like a Phoenix. A few years ago, Dereck Humphry explained it this way:

“Controversial in death as in life, the Hemlock Society USA as a name died suddenly on June 13, 2003, in a boardroom in Denver, Colorado. It was 23 years old. Public relations experts and political strategists – leaning heavily on focus groups – were on hand to usher in the death knell. Months of agonizing debate had preceded the decision because no one could think of a better name!

“Born in 1980 in my garage in Santa Monica, California, Hemlock went on to be the largest and oldest right-to-die organization in America fighting for voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide to be made legal for terminally and hopelessly ill adults. (There were larger organizations but they had what might be called a “passive euthanasia” agenda.)”
The long and the short of it is that, when I go, I want to die on my own terms. Maybe I’ll want to drag it out and maybe I won’t. I’ll decide. Compassion & Choices gives me lots of information about that decision and how to make sure my wishes are followed. I guess its main purpose in life (if you'll excuse the expression) is to advocate for helpful legislation for those of us who want to make our own decisions about the penultimate event in our lives; that is, of course, our death. However, they also provide lots of information and educational matter.

The organization also has a staff large enough that they are able to listen to us when we begin wrestling with death’s tough questions. They can often help when others, who are too emotionally attached to us, cannot.

Compassion & Choices is headquartered in Denver and also maintains an office in the nation’s capitol.

Through them you’ll learn a lot that will allow you to take the tough decisions off your family’s hands and minds. Give them a look!

Here’s a Compassion & Choices video that features the Barbara Coombs Lee, speaking about Oregon's laws regarding death by choice. It will help you understand what the organization does.

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