The Center for End of Life Law and Policy (Center) at Compassion in Dying Federation furthers our mission to expand options and improve care of the dying through legal action. Headed by our Director of Legal Affairs, Kathryn Tucker, the Center conducts legal research, advises clients and pursues numerous initiatives to advocate for better pain management and other care, and legal assisted dying.
Ms. Tucker leads these multifaceted efforts, but they depend heavily upon the contribution of legal services from public-spirited lawyers around the country. These attorneys, many of whom are renowned in their field, generously contribute their expertise and their time to further Compassion's programs and improve the legal environment of dying throughout the United States. We at Compassion are enormously appreciative of these contributions. Our work simply could not be accomplished without this assistance.
We wish to extend special thanks to the following contributing attorneys who worked with Ms. Tucker on significant matters during the past year:
- Richard Abramson, Nicholas van Aelstyn and colleagues at the California-based firm of Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe. These attorneys worked on a number of projects. They prepared a thorough analysis of the Hyde/Nickles bill in Congress, that was designed to thwart implementation of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. Their legal memo convinced many members of Congress to withhold support of the pending bill. These attorneys also analyzed the duty of medical providers to inform patients of the right to receive pain care under state and federal law applicable in California. Their work formed the basis for the letter to the Health Care Financing Administration reported in this newsletter. Finally, these attorneys assisted in review of state constitutional law and physician assisted dying and contributed to our choice of Alaska as the best state for Compassion's next legal challenge.
- Michael Isbell and colleagues at the New York firm Hughes, Hubbard & Reed. These attorneys worked on developing a federal constitutional claim to prompt adequate pain management. Their analysis will form the basis for our forthcoming challenge to state regulatory barriers that prevent physicians from treating pain and other end-of-life symptoms vigorously. Carla Kerr and others at Hughes, Hubbard & Reed served as co-counsel in the Quill litigation, argued the case at the 2nd Circuit and helped prepare the case before the Supreme Court.
- Robert Wagstaff, sole practitioner in Anchorage Alaska. Mr. Wagstaff is serving as co-counsel in Sampson v. State of Alaska, a case claiming state constitutional protection for the choice of physician assisted dying. This case is detailed in this issue of the newsletter.
- Perkins Coie, based in Seattle continues to provide valuable support for Kathryn Tucker as she works as Compassion's legal director.
The contributions made by these highly esteemed practitioners and their law firms are tremendously valuable. In a democracy our civil rights and our personal dignity are established and protected in the law. As practitioners of a noble profession, these individuals selflessly donate their knowledge and time to further the rights and dignity of everyone. We are enormously grateful.