• Thumbnailhttps://twitter.com/AP/status/426841424269938688 Marlise Munoz is dead . She  died Nov. 26 , probably of a pulmonary embolus, when she was 14 weeks pregnant. But John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas refuses to turn off the machines and let the family claim the body of their beloved. Is the Munoz case the shape of things to come? This family is [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: “Doctor, Please Help me Die”

    2013-05-16 10:31:16View | Delete

    ThumbnailDr. Tom Preston, a Compassion & Choices leader in Seattle, chose these poignant words for the title of his new book . They are powerful words, gripping even on paper. Imagine them emerging from the lips of a patient, perhaps one whom the doctor has treated over decades, who is now dying of cancer. They strike right at the [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: Oh, Freedom

    2013-02-25 16:03:16View | Delete

    Michael Morgan , founder and Executive Director of the African American Music Foundation, visited my church this week to celebrate Black History Month . During morning service his thrilling bass voice highlighted an inspiring memorial to Paul Robeson. That afternoon he delivered a recital and lecture on spirituals to an overflow crowd. I’ve been humming these spirituals and mulling [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: Potent Breakthrough in Canada

    2013-01-24 09:43:09View | Delete

    ThumbnailLast week the government of Quebec announced plans to recognize aid in dying as a legal and protected medical practice in the province. They promise a new law by this summer. A tremendously exciting announcement, it reveals a seismic shift in the thinking of both medical and political leaders. I cannot overstate the magnitude and power of [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: Vote Like Your Future Depends on It

    2012-10-31 08:49:13View | Delete

    This election season is extracting an enormous toll from candidates and citizens alike. Pressure is always intense in a Presidential year, but this year is different.  Airwaves and Internet hammer away with news of poll after poll, minute campaign details and endless tit for tat. The presidential race, Senate and House races — even local [...]

  • ThumbnailExpansion in Oregon Tests whether it’s a Distinction without a Difference As I previously blogged, the Catholic hospital brand is no longer desirable in the marketplace for mergers and acquisitions of healthcare entities. This realization led Catholic Healthcare West , the nation’s fifth largest healthcare conglomerate, to give up its status as a ministry of the Catholic Church. In doing [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: The Demise of the Catholic Hospital Brand

    2012-06-19 09:45:04View | Delete

    ThumbnailIt used to be Americans viewed Catholic hospitals and healthcare systems with universal respect and trust. They had no reason to do otherwise. Founded in the nineteenth century by orders of nuns with a mission to care for the poor, Catholic hospitals grew and thrived in modern industrial medicine. Many became conglomerates and dominant sources of [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: Should Doctors Learn to Grieve?

    2012-05-30 12:52:54View | Delete

    ThumbnailWhy is it so difficult for doctors to confront the truth when a patient is dying, and almost impossible for most to talk about it openly with the patient and loved ones? Last week I shared a hunch. A journalist asked me the question, “Why do doctors find these conversations so hard?” I said I could [...]

  • Anti-choice forces are taking aim at end-of-life care . They’re after people at the end of a long decline who exercise their right to stop life-prolonging technology or treatment. Their tactic is to tie the hands of doctors attending those patients, when palliative treatment might ease the patient’s chosen death. They seek to undermine the widespread agreement [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: When Wishes are Fishes

    2012-04-19 10:15:22View | Delete

    ThumbnailHow do we get doctors to honor our wishes at the end of life? Most recommend preparing an advance directive , and I’m no exception. These documents are not infallible, but they are the best things we’ve got going for us when we can’t speak for ourselves. However, one popular advance directive could actually subvert your wishes with its stealth [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: National Healthcare Decisions Day: Amy’s Story

    2012-04-16 07:30:26View | Delete

    Compassion & Choices member Persis Oberreither, by completing an advance directive, inspired her teenage daughter to do the same. Here she tells of the heartbreak – and comfort – of honoring her daughter’s wishes. AMY’S STORY In recognition of National Healthcare Decisions Day, I want to share with you my first-hand knowledge of the incalculable importance of [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: Vigilantes in Scrubs

    2012-03-30 08:23:40View | Delete

    A study published this month paints a troubling picture. Imagine palliative care doctors, working to deliver the best possible comfort care to their patients. Yet even as they meet the recognized best practices of their profession, their colleagues are judging their covert intentions and moral fiber. Over half of the physicians who responded to the survey, published in [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: Peter Goodwin, Pioneer for Human Liberty

    2012-03-20 13:09:55View | Delete

    Eighteen years ago, Dr. Peter Goodwin led the fight to grant Oregonians the right to end-of-life choice. I was honored to work alongside Peter as a co-campaigner and call him a friend. Both as a physician and an advocate, he promoted honesty in facing death. This month he confronted his own approaching death with the same [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: Two Movements Approach the Tipping Point

    2012-03-16 10:39:15View | Delete

    After years of gains and setbacks, the national movement for same-sex marriage is enjoying a period of remarkable success. Massachusetts and Connecticut became first adopters in 2004 and 2005 and that came after twenty years of advocacy. Turmoil followed, especially in California. But in 2009 three states (Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire) approved same-sex marriage. New York followed [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: United, as Women and for Women

    2012-03-09 11:56:31View | Delete

    Yesterday was the 101st annual International Women’s Day . In some countries this Day holds the same stature as Mother’s Day and celebrates women’s economic, political and social achievements. More or less concurrently, proposals landed in Congress and in states around the nation to excuse insurance plans and religious employers from birth control coverage if they have [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: Bishops Step Over the Line

    2012-02-23 11:54:32View | Delete

    Over and over we see the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops confuse the right to exercise their religion with a right to impose their religion on Americans who don’t share it. This is not a subtle difference. And, as Bill Moyers points out in the context of their intransigence on access to birth control, the bishops [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: The Schiavo Case Seven Years Later

    2012-02-10 11:57:35View | Delete

    New Messaging From Politicians Sometimes progress toward human dignity seems agonizingly slow, especially affirming the role of choice at the end of life. So it’s heartening when evidence of seismic change shows up. Last week’s presidential debate lifted our hearts for this reason. Contenders for the Republican nomination were in Tampa, and questioners brought up Terri Schiavo . [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: Good News From Kentucky!

    2012-01-05 07:45:15View | Delete

    2011 closed with good news out of Kentucky. On Friday Governor Steve Beshear refused to approve a Louisville hospital merger that threatened patient choice . Compassion & Choices, MergerWatch, the National Women’s Law Center and other national advocacy organizations joined local activists to raise constitutional and public policy questions regarding potential threats to end-of-life and reproductive care. [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: A dog’s gentle death

    2012-01-04 11:54:39View | Delete

    Our family will always remember this holiday season as the time Sugar died. Sugar was a mixed breed, mostly lab/border-collie type. She exhibited the best character traits of every gene she carried and seemed to bear none of any breed’s drawbacks. She was a real credit to her species. A member of my daughter’s household, [...]

  • BarbaraCoombsLee wrote a new diary post: The Double Effect of Aid in Dying

    2011-10-13 08:30:49View | Delete

    The doctrine of double effect enables medical providers of every faith, in every state, to treat end-of-life pain aggressively and participate in treatment decisions that advance the time of death. Now data from Oregon demonstrates the doctrine applies to prescribing medication for aid in dying, too. For years I have asserted that aid in dying is not [...]

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