Non-profit

Compassion and Choices

This is a logo for Compassion and Choices.
Website:

www.compassionandchoices.org

Location:

Portland, OR

Tax ID:

84-1328829

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $8,660,832
Expenses: $14,808,739
Assets: $13,248,185

Formation:

2005

CEO:

Barbara Coombs-Lee

Compassion & Choices is an advocacy group supporting efforts to access to legal physician-assisted suicide and similar forms of medically assisted dying. It advocates for physician-assisted suicide, starvation (which they euphemize as “voluntary stopping of eating and drinking”), and terminal sedation. [1] [2] [3]

Compassion and Choices is the largest assisted suicide advocacy organization in the country. [4] It has advocated for assisted suicide legislation that has passed into law in California, Vermont, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. [5]

Compassion and Choices also provide legal services for doctors who have been charged with homicide for aiding the death of terminal patients [6] and litigates cases for patients who wish to stop receiving life-saving care, request terminal sedation, or who request physician-assisted suicide.

Other services include referrals to physicians who perform assisted suicide and prescribe opioid medication, and condemning institutions that do not perform assisted suicide.

History

Compassion and Choices started under the name Hemlock Society in 1980, founded by activist Dereck Humphry. Later, the name changed again to End-of-Life Choices and combined with Compassion and Dying in 2005 to form Compassion and Choices.

Although it claims only to advocate for assisted suicide in cases of mentally competent, terminally ill patients, Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphrey has stated assisted suicide would be appropriate in cases of persons with non-life-threatening disabilities, referring to a voluntary euthanasia case in which the plaintiff had cerebral palsy. [7]

Advocacy

Compassion and Choices’ first advocacy campaign as a united organization was for bill AB 2747 in California, signed September 30, 2008. Part of the original bill would have allowed for terminal sedation for patients given one year or less to live, although that portion failed. Ultimately, the portion which passed required doctors to inform patients (or refer them to organizations who would inform them) about all options related to end-of-life care, including assisted suicide. [8]

In 1997, Compassion and Choices predecessor Compassion in Dying argued for physician-assisted suicide in the Vacco v. Quill case in New York. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that there was no federal constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, 9-0. Later in 2013, Compassion and Choices CEO Barbara Coombs Lee wrote an article with euthanasia advocate Kathryn Tucker claiming that the ruling asserts a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide based on the concurring opinion of Justice O’Connor, despite the court’s unanimous ruling against this. [9] [10]

Compassion and Choice takes credit for writing provisions for assisted suicide in early drafts of Obamacare, including a requirement for Medicare funding to pay for consultations about options for physician-assisted suicide. The provisions written by Compassion and Choices were also criticized for requiring government regulation of health care procedures as they relate to the bill while also preventing judicial review of such decisions. [11]

In March 2017, National medical director of Compassion and Choices Dr. David Grube denounced Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch during his nomination as a threat to the legalization of assisted suicide. [12]

Brittany Maynard

On January 1, 2014, Brittany Maynard was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and moved to Oregon in order to legally commit suicide. Compassion and Choices garnered a large amount of media attention helping to publicize Maynard’s situation, releasing videos of Maynard reading legislative testimonies and releasing promotional videos after her death to promote assisted suicide laws. On October 29, 2014, Maynard noted that she felt she wasn’t ready to die, although she still committed suicide on her originally planned date of November 1, 2014. [13] [14]

Before her death, Maynard partnered with Compassion and Choices to create the Brittany Maynard Fund. The fund is touted as a way to fund campaigns to legalize assisted suicide in states where it is illegal. [15]

National People of Color Initiative

On April 27, 2016, the National People of Color Initiative was created to target groups of people based on certain races and ethnicities in the United States. Compassion and Choices national constituency manager Brandi Alexander said “Communities of color often have the highest rates of illness, yet are least likely to complete advance directives or discuss medical intervention with loved ones. The disparities that exist are the motivating factor for Compassion and Choices’ increased and targeted outreach to communities of color.” [16] [17]

Compassion in Dying v. Washington State

In 1997, the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington ruled in favor of a case on physician-assisted suicide originated by Compassion in Dying, a predecessor to Compassion and Choices. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit found Washington’s statute against physician-assisted suicide unconstitutional, citing a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, and citing Planned Parenthood v. Casey as legal precedent. [18]

Baxter v. Montana

Compassion and Choices brought a lawsuit against the state of Montana along with Robert Baxter and several physicians that was argued on September 2, 2009. The case argued that individuals have a constitutional right to assisted suicide, and the Montana Supreme Court ruled in favor of Baxter on December 31, 2009. The court’s ruling was considered narrow, avoiding a broad ruling that would answer whether assisted suicide is guaranteed under the Montana constitution. [19] [20]

Morris v. New Mexico                                                                                            

Compassion & Choices filed a lawsuit along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) against the state of New Mexico in March 2012 that led to a ruling on January 13, 2014 legalizing physician-assisted suicide. [21]

In 2015, Compassion and Choices helped establish the New Mexico End of Life Options Coalition to advocate for assisted suicide in New Mexico and in the New Mexico legislature. [22]

Vacco v. Quill

The first major change propagated by Compassion and Choices was through sponsoring the Oregon Medical Association’s position change to neutral on physician-assisted suicide. The first legalization for physician-assisted suicide in the United States passed in Oregon six months later, with the Oregon Medical Association’s position change being cited as playing a key role. [23] [24]

Gonzalez v. Oregon

In 2006, the Supreme Court of Oregon ruled that physician-assisted suicide can be performed in the form of administering lethal doses of pain medication to patients. The state sued U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft after Ashcroft issued a rule declaring that assisted suicide violated the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. In contrast, the Oregon Death with Dignity Act noted in revised statutes enacted from ballot measure 16 in 1994 that its own language should not be construed to legalize lethal injection, “mercy killing,” or “active euthanasia,” and that any actions taken under the authority of its statutes do not constitute “suicide,” “assisted suicide,” or “mercy killing”. [25] Compassion and Choices predecessor Compassion in Dying served as an Intervenor on Oregon’s behalf during litigation. [26] [27]

Sampson v. Alaska

On December 15, 1998, Compassion in Dying filed a lawsuit in Alaska Superior Court, challenging a law against assisted suicide. After an unfavorable ruling and appealing to the Alaska Supreme Court, on September 21, 2001 the Court ruled against physician assisted suicide based on the arguments made that such an allowance increases patient rights, while the court ruled it only addresses the actions of physicians.

Oregon Death with Dignity Act

On April 5, 2019, Compassion & Choices Director of Integrated Programs Matt Whitaker wrote a letter to the Oregon Senate Judiciary Committee to expand the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. Whitaker states that the regulations within the Act inhibit provider participation and make it difficult to follow through with suicide. Compassion & Choices actively lobbied for a new bill that would remove regulations in order to make assisted suicide more accessible in Oregon, such as abolishing the waiting period. [28]

Funding

Compassion and Choices had a large growth in donors and operating costs between 2010 and 2011, growing from 32,000 to 38,000 donors and from $5 million to $8.2 million in budget, all through private donations. [29]

In 2010, Compassion and Choices received $1 million from the Soros American Foundations, and was listed in their “top 75 Grantees” list. [30] In the 2013-2014 fiscal year, Open Society Foundations donated $2 million and was the third largest single contribution overall. [31]

Other notable institutional supporters of Compassion and Choices include the Kohlberg Foundation, the Katie McGrath and J.J. Abrams Family Foundation, and the Marilyn and Jeffrey Katzenberg Foundation. [32]

References

  1. Valko, Nancy. “Is Compassion and Choices Aiming to Become the “Planned Parenthood” of Euthanasia?” nancyvalko. October 17, 2016. Accessed October 8, 2019. https://nancyvalko.com/2016/10/17/is-compassion-and-choices-aiming-to-become-the-planned-parenthood-of-euthanasia/ ^
  2. “Frequently Asked Questions.” Compassion & Choices. 2019. Accessed October 8, 2019. https://compassionandchoices.org/resource/frequently-asked-questions/#question-1 ^
  3. Smith, Wesley J. “Compassion and Choices Pushes Suicide by Starvation.” National Review. July 9, 2014. Accessed October 8, 2019. https://www.nationalreview.com/human-exceptionalism/compassion-and-choices-pushes-suicide-starvation-wesley-j-smith/ ^
  4. “About Us.” Compassion & Choices. 2019. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://compassionandchoices.org/about-us/ ^
  5. Migoya, David. “Colorado medical aid-in-dying law signed by Gov. Jogn Hickenlooper, take effect immediately.” The Denver Post. December 16, 2016. Accessed October 8, 2019. https://www.denverpost.com/2016/12/16/medical-aid-in-dying-law-takes-effect/ ^
  6. Morrow, Angela. “The Right-to-Die Organization Compassion and Choices.” Verywell. September 2, 2019. Accessed Otctober 5, 2019. https://www.verywellhealth.com/compassion-choices-1132046 ^
  7. Coleman, Dianne, Drake, Steve, & Longmore, Paul. “The REAL Hemlock Society.” Broadreach. January 28, 2013. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://web.archive.org/web/20130707090749/http://www.broadreachtraining.com/advocacy/arhemloc.htm ^
  8. Smith, Wesley J. “Obamacare: Compassion and Choices Seeking to Become Planned Parenthood of Death.” August 15, 2009. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/08/obamacare-compassion-and-choices-seeking-to-become-planned-parenthood-of-death ^
  9. Smith, Wesley J. “Mendacity, Thy Name is Compassion and Choices. National Review. August 2, 2013. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.nationalreview.com/human-exceptionalism/mendacity-thy-name-compassion-and-choices-wesley-j-smith/ ^
  10. Coombs Lee, Barbara & Tucker, Kathryn. “One Woman’s future depends on AG Kane’s constitutional consistency: As I See It.” PennLive. August 1, 2013. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2013/08/one_womans_future_depends_on_ag_kanes_constitutional_consistency_as_i_see_it.html ^
  11. Mckenna, David. “Beyond Multichannel..” NonProfit PRO. April 1, 2012. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.wnd.com/2009/08/106812/ ^
  12. Grube, David. “Gorsuch is a threat to Oregon’s Death with Dignity (Opinion).” Oregon Live. March 23, 2017. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.oregonlive.com/opinion/2017/03/gorsuch_is_a_threat_to_oregons.html ^
  13. CNN Wire. “Brittany Maynard, the terminally ill woman choosing to die Nov 1 tells CNN: Now ‘doesn’t seem like the right time’”. WGN. October 29, 2014. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://wgntv.com/2014/10/29/brittany-maynard-the-terminially-ill-woman-chosing-to-die-nov-1-tells-cnn-now-doesnt-seem-like-the-right-time/ ^
  14. Slotnik, Daniel E. “Brittany Maynard, ‘Death With Dignity’ Ally, Dies at 29”. The New York times. November 3, 2014. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/04/us/brittany-maynard-death-with-dignity-ally-dies-at-29.html ^
  15. http://7online.com/health/why-29-year-old-brittany-maynard-is-choosing-to-end-her-life/340551 ^
  16. Compassion & Choices. “Compassion & Choices Launches African-American, Latino Leadership Councils.” PR Newswire. November 1, 2017. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/compassion–choices-launches-african-american-latino-leadership-councils-300547843.html ^
  17. “Compassion & Choices Launches National People of Color Initiative.” Compassion & Choices. April 27, 2016.  Accessed October 5, 2019. https://compassionandchoices.org/news/compassion-choices-launches-national-people-color-initiative/ ^
  18. Candilis, Philip J, and Kenneth L Applebaum. “Physician-Assisted Suicide and the Supreme Court: The Washington and Vacco Verdicts .” Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law 25, no. 4 (1997): 595–606. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/1e89/738b60c9ceeda62f3b4d639d72d141e71d6b.pdf. ^
  19. Ruble, James H. “Baxter v. Montana, Libertarianism, and End-of-Life: The Ripe Time for a Paradigm Shift.” Journal of Pain & Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy 24, no. 3 (2010): 263–70. https://doi.org/10.3109/15360288.2010.502214. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20718648 ^
  20. Johnson, Kirk. “Montana Ruling Bolsters Doctor-Asissted Suicide.” The New York Times. December 31, 2009. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/01/us/01suicide.html ^
  21. ProCon.org. “Physician-Assisted Suicide Ruled Legal by New Mexico Judge.” ProCon.org January 14, 2014. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.procon.org/headline.php?headlineID=005198 ^
  22. “New Mexico.” Compassion & Choices. 2019. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://compassionandchoices.org/in-your-state/new-mexico/ ^
  23. Bettinelli, Domenico. “Compassion and Choices Celebrates as Mass. Medical Society Goes Neutral on DPS.” December 22, 2017. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.masscitizensforlife.org/compassion-and-choices-celebrates-as-mass-medical-society-becomes-the-10th-state-medical-association-to-succumb-to-dps-agenda ^
  24. “Washington v. Glucksberg & Vacco v. Quill.” Compassion & Choices. 2019. Accessed October 8, 2019. https://compassionandchoices.org/legal-advocacy/past-cases/washington-v-glucksberg-vacco-v-quill/ ^
  25. “The Oregon Death with Dignity Act: Oregon Revised Statutes.” Oregon.gov.  https://www.oregon.gov/oha/ph/ProviderPartnerResources/EvaluationResearch/DeathwithDignityAct/Documents/statute.pdf ^
  26. “Gonzales v. Oregon” Compassion & Choices. 2019. Accessed October 8, 2019. https://compassionandchoices.org/legal-advocacy/past-cases/gonzales-v-oregon/ ^
  27. “Gonzales v. Oregon.” Legal Dictionary. April 29, 2017. Accessed October 8, 2019. https://legaldictionary.net/gonzales-v-oregon/ ^
  28. “Testimony of Matt Whitaker, director of Integrated Programs, Compassion & Choices Regarding SB 579, Relating to the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.” Senate Committee On Judiciary. April 5, 2019. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://olis.leg.state.or.us/liz/2019R1/Downloads/CommitteeMeetingDocument/187666 ^
  29. Mckenna, David. “Beyond Multichannel..” NonProfit PRO. April 1, 2012. Accessed October 5, 2019. https://www.nonprofitpro.com/article/compassion-choices-relies-omnichannel-marketing-fundraising/all/ ^
  30. Hendershott, Anne. “Op-Ed: Selling suicide with George Soros’ money.” Washington Examiner. April 4, 2013. Accessed October 8, 2019. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/op-ed-selling-suicide-with-george-soros-money ^
  31. Galewitz, Phil. “Aid-In-Dying Advocacy Group Girds For Battle After California Victory.” November 18, 2015. Accessed October 8, 2019. https://khn.org/news/aid-in-dying-advocacy-group-girds-for-battles-after-california-victory/ ^
  32. Data compiled by FoundationSearch.com subscription service, a project of Metasoft Systems, Inc., from forms filed with the IRS. Queries conducted October 17, 2019. ^

Coalition Memberships

  1. Alliance for Justice (AFJ)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: June - May
  • Tax Exemption Received: October 1, 2005

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Jun Form 990 $8,660,832 $14,808,739 $13,248,185 $1,131,253 N $8,475,301 $0 $97,111 $769,730 PDF
    2016 Jun Form 990 $15,574,247 $16,783,079 $19,134,234 $1,286,502 N $15,734,717 $0 $211,296 $802,903
    2015 Jun Form 990 $13,089,846 $14,829,841 $20,079,365 $1,214,893 N $12,758,539 $0 $354,434 $788,011 PDF
    2014 Jun Form 990 $17,996,267 $10,926,463 $22,142,078 $1,329,915 N $17,146,376 $0 $294,222 $496,786 PDF
    2013 Jun Form 990 $10,095,676 $8,039,496 $14,129,370 $934,493 N $9,960,067 $0 $197,672 $509,788 PDF
    2012 Jun Form 990 $13,756,556 $7,155,030 $12,061,620 $1,417,224 N $13,657,882 $0 $104,660 $472,799 PDF
    2011 Jun Form 990 $7,032,211 $5,178,131 $4,472,426 $652,405 N $6,982,434 $0 $31,592 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Compassion and Choices

    8156 S WADSWORTH BLVD UNIT E # 162
    Portland, OR 80128-9114