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Compassion & Choices of Colorado (www.compassionandchoicesofcolorado.org) is a chapter of the national organization Compassion and Choices. The chapter was incorporated in 1991 as the Hemlock Society of Colorado. In 2004, the national Hemlock Society changed its name to End-of-Life Choices in order to be more acceptable to legislators and supporters. We also changed our name. In 2005, the national organi- zation merged with Compassion in Dying. Again, the chapter changed its name to reflect the national organi- zationís combined name of Compassion & Choices (www.compassionandchoices.org).

While our name has changed, our mission remains the same: to support and advocate for a dying personís choice at end of life. Through the work of Compassion and Choices, there are now three states that allow for physician-assisted dying. These are Oregon, which has had the law for 12 years; Washington state, where voters approved the law in 2009; and Montana, where a judge ruled that the state constitution allows for this right. Click here for more information on Oregon. http://public.health.oregon.gov/ProviderPartnerResources/ Evaluationresearch/deathwithdignityact/Pages/index.aspx

At the local level, the Colorado Chapter has worked with like-minded organizations to shepherd laws for the benefit of patients and caregivers. The chapter was part of the group that worked to get passage of Colo- rado SB 102 which amends the stateís manslaughter statue to grant immunity to a medical caregiver who unintentionally causes the death of a terminally ill patient as the result of efforts to relieve the patient's pain by either using increased doses of medication or administering analgesics the physician might otherwise be reluctant to try. Adequate pain management in the United States is extremely poor; 50% of patients who die in institutions experience pain that could be treated, but isn't.

A representative from the chapter serves as a delegate on the Colorado Advance Directive Consortium. This group succeeded in achieving the passage of a law to permit the use of a form that condenses a person's advance directives and DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) orders into a one-page, two-sided document which is transportable from one facility to another and can be easily and quickly reviewed by healthcare providers. More information on MOST (Medical Orders for Scope of Treatment) is available on the Web site.

We hold informational meetings three to four times a year, usually at the First Universalist Church of Denver, 4101 E. Hampden Avenue, Denver. Recent programs have included addresses by specialists in palliative research and care and by hospice administrators and caregivers; film presentations; and personal stories. Board members are available to speak at other functions. If you would like have someone come and talk to your group or to receive our newsletter, please send an e-mail to coloradochoices@gmail.com or call 303- 829-6465.

© Colorado Choices, a chapter of Compassion and Choices
Contact: 1-800-247-7421