April 12, 2024

A divorce for the end-of-life dream team

Compassion & Choices and the Alzheimer’s Association have parted ways after a partnership which lasted only a few weeks.

On December 21 Compassion & Choices, America’s best-known assisted suicide lobby group announced “a new partnership to improve end-of-life care for those living with dementia”. The goal was to reach out to marginalised and underserved “Black, Latino, Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander and LGBTQ communities”. These communities are less likely to have services for end-of-life care.

Compassion & Choices was delighted with the arrangement. It described itself as an organisation which helps people “assert their care preferences early in their dementia journey, to choose what health care people want to receive and which care they may forgo when their dementia reaches an advanced stage”.

An article in the Washington Free Beacon, published before the two groups parted ways, argued that Compassion & Choices wanted to use the Alzheimer’s Association to draw in black people, who have been slow to take up assisted suicide. It quoted Dr Joel Zivot, an intensive care doctor and a professor at Atlanta’s Emory University, about the black community’s interest in advanced care directives and assisted suicide. “The people who feel like the health care system had failed them their entire life,” he says, are the same people who say, “Now you want me to roll over and die? No, thank you.”

The press release failed to mention anything about assisted suicide or euthanasia.

On January 29, the Alzheimer’s Association pulled the plug. Apparently it had not done “due diligence” on America’s best-known assisted suicide lobby group. “Their values are inconsistent with those of the Association. We deeply regret our mistake, have begun the termination of the relationship, and apologize to all of the families we support who were hurt or disappointed.”