Neha Patil (Editor)

Compassion and Choices

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Location  United States
Founder  Derek Humphry
Key people  Barbara Coombs Lee
Founded  2005
Compassion & Choices wwwcompassionatecarenyorgwpcontentuploadsCom
Type  Legal and legislative advocacy, counseling
Headquarters  Denver, Colorado, United States
Motto  Expanding choice and improving care at the end of life
Similar  Death with Dignity National, Hemlock Society, Final Exit Network, Exit International, Dignitas

Compassion & Choices is a nonprofit organization in the United States working to improve patient rights and individual choice at the end of life, including access to medical aid in dying. Its primary function is advocating for and ensuring access to end-of-life options, including medical aid in dying.


With over 65,000 supporters and campaigns in nine states, it is the largest organization of its kind in the United States.

History and organization

Compassion & Choices is the successor to the Hemlock Society, and Compassion In Dying Federation; the organizations merged in 2007. The organization maintains staff in New York, the District of Columbia, California, Washington State (they dismissed WA state staff in 2016; the local org is independent and unaffiliated) Oregon, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Montana, New Mexico, Colorado, Vermont and New Jersey.

End-of-life consultation program

Compassion & Choices provides end-of-life consultation for dying patients and their families at no cost. Professional consultants and trained volunteers work by phone or in person to offer assistance in completing advance directives, make referrals to local services including hospice and illness-specific support groups, advice on adequate pain and symptom management, and information on safe, effective and legal methods for aid in dying.

The organization's work is highlighted in the documentary film How to Die in Oregon which won the 2011 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Access campaigns

Compassion & Choices integrates medical aid in dying into healthcare by implementing and normalizing them into the standard of care after laws are passed in individual states.

Legal advocacy

Compassion & Choices litigates patient cases related to ensuring adequate end-of-life care and choice. Through litigation, Compassion & Choices protects terminally ill patients' rights to receive pain and symptom management, to voluntarily stop life-sustaining treatments, to request and receive palliative sedation, and to choose aid in dying under state and federal constitutional protections.

Vacco v. Quill

In 1997, Vacco v. Quill legitimized palliative sedation as a recognized medical practice.

Washington v. Glucksberg

In 1997, Washington v. Glucksberg emphasized that it was up to states to legalize aid in dying.

Gonzales v. Oregon

C&C represented 16 terminally ill patient-plaintiffs at the U.S. Supreme Court in Gonzales v. Oregon, defeating the Bush administration's challenge to Oregon's Death with Dignity Act in January 2006.

Baxter v. Montana

Baxter v. Montana authorized medical aid in dying in Montana.


Compassion & Choices Wikipedia