Barbara Coombs Lee
President, Compassion & Choices
Barbara Coombs Lee is President of Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding and protecting the rights of the terminally ill. She practiced as a nurse and physician assistant for 25 years before beginning a career in law and health policy. Since then she has devoted her professional life to individual choice and empowerment in healthcare. As a private attorney, as counsel to the Oregon State Senate, as a managed-care executive and finally as Chief Petitioner for Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, she has championed initiatives that enable individuals to consider a full range of choices and be full participants in their healthcare decisions.
Last week the government of Quebec announced plans to recognize aid in dying as a legal and protected medical practice in the province. Assisting a suicide -- to maliciously goad a mentally-ill person to act on his self-destructive impulses -- should be understood as a crime. Aid in dying should be understood as medical practice.
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