Endorsement Timely with New Laws in New Jersey, Maine Taking Effect
(Washington, D.C. – Aug. 20, 2019) Compassion & Choices today praised SAGE, the world’s largest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) elders, for endorsing medical aid-in-dying laws. Medical aid-in-dying laws give mentally capable, terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can decide to take to peacefully end intolerable suffering, when no other palliative care treatment provides relief.
“After facing a lifetime of stigma and discrimination, LGBT older people know all too well the importance of personal autonomy and the need to be able to make personal decisions, guided by their own moral compass, not that of others,” said SAGE’s memorandum of support. “Within our LGBT community, many elders are haunted by the memory of loved ones suffering from HIV/AIDS, for whom aid-in-dying became all the more important … LGBT and end-of-life options movements are deeply intertwined.”
The endorsement is timely because a new medical aid-in-dying law took effect in New Jersey on Aug. 1 (although a judge temporarily suspended the law on Aug. 14) and a new medical aid-in-dying law is set to take effect in Maine on Sept. 15. SAGE’s endorsement will help educate LGBT elders in these states about this end-of-life care option. Seven other states — California, Colorado, Hawai‘i, Montana (via state Supreme Court ruling), Oregon, Vermont, and Washington — and the District of Columbia, also have authorized medical aid in dying. Collectively, these 10 jurisdictions represent more than one out of five U.S. residents (22%) and have 40+ years of combined experience using this end-of-life care option.
“SAGE’s endorsement is both historically and substantively important because the horrific suffering in the LGBT community during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis played a key role in the birth of the movement to pass medical aid-in-dying laws,” said Brandi Alexander, National Director of Constituency for Compassion & Choices. “We deeply appreciate SAGE’s endorsement because not many demographic groups understand the importance of having this peaceful dying option more than the LBGTQ community.”
SAGE joins a growing list that now includes 16 advocacy, health and medical organizations that have endorsed medical aid in dying, including GLMA: Healthcare Professionals Advancing LGBT Equality, Latino Commission on AIDS, American College of Legal Medicine, American Medical Student Association, American Medical Women’s Association, American Nurses Association/California, American Public Health Association, Coalition for Liberty & Justice, Hispanic Health Network, Latinos for Healthcare Equity, National Student Nurses Association, National Hispanic Council on Aging, New York State Academy of Family Physicians, Nuestra Salud (Our Health) and Older Women’s League-San Francisco.
SAGE is the world’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) older people. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older people and their caregivers. SAGE also advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT elders, provides education and technical assistance for aging providers and LGBT community organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging, and cultural competency training through SAGECare. With staff located across the country, SAGE also coordinates SAGENet, a growing network of affiliates in the United States. Learn more at sageusa.org.
About Compassion & Choices
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.