Articles: AIDS and Right-To-Die

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“We promised that we were committed to continuing to fight for expanded end-of-life care options for Californians, and we have kept that promise,” said Eggman (pictured above). “We will not wait another year.”

January 16, 2014 Human Rights Campaign

Death, Dignity and the Stonewall Generation

By Mark Dann, Compassion & Choices Regional Campaign & LGBT Outreach Manager

The Oregon law was a direct response to the AIDS crisis when so many were terminally ill and horribly suffering that many felt there needed to be better treatments and options at the end of life. As the Stonewall Generation ages, it is heartbreaking that after a lifetime of fighting to extend greater rights to future generations, they may face very restricted rights at the end of life.


Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance.  Washington DC

Testimony on Death with Dignity Act, Bill 21-38
Before the Committee on Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C.

Public Hearing:  Death with Dignity Act of 2015 of Washington DC

Friday, July 10, 2015

I am Rick Rosendall, president of the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance, the oldest continuously active LGBT rights organization in the United States.   GLAA supports the
Death with Dignity Act of 2015, Bill 21-38.

End-of-life issues have confronted us since AIDS first devastated our community in the 1980s.

Those of us who survived have awful memories of partners, friends, family members and
colleagues who suffered agonizing, wasting deaths, robbed of dignity. Some were driven to
suicide, unassisted by doctors or others. Some could only wish for deliverance from pointless
suffering. Our legal and medical systems only compounded the ordeal.

According to Compassion and Choices, the nation’s leading organization lobbying for death with dignity legislation, “one of the leading catalysts” behind the Oregon law was “people dying from AIDS who wanted an option to control their suffering at the end of life.”



Supreme Court of the United States

AIDS Action Council disappointed by Supreme Court decision against assisted-suicide.  “People should be allowed to die with dignity.”  June 26, 1997.

June 26, 1997

AIDS Action is deeply disappointed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today against physician assisted suicide. Essentially, the Supreme Court has ruled against empowering people with terminal diseases, including HIV disease, to exercise their fundamental right to make individual decisions about how they live with their disease, including their right to freely choose in a dignified and humane way the manner and time of their death. AIDS Action believes that the federal government should not interfere with an individual’s exercise of the fundamental right to make his or her own decisions about life and death, decisions that should be made with the assistance of their physicians and other health care professionals.

AIDS Action is the nation’s foremost AIDS advocacy organization, representing all Americans affected by HIV and AIDS, and over 1,400 community-based organizations that serve them.

For information, contact:
José Zuñiga
AIDS Action Council
1875 Connecticut Avenue NW #700
Washington DC 20009

Compassion and Choices’ LGBTQ Advocacy History

  • Compassion & Choices of Washington began providing client services in 1993, at the peak of the AIDS crisis, and many of our first clients were people with HIV/AIDS. One of the founders of  Compassion & Choices of Washington was Susan Dunshee, longtime director of the Dunshee House (formerly known as Seattle Aids Support Group).
  • From the beginning, LGBTQ individuals have served on our staff, board, advisory committee, and client support team. Many of our board members and client support volunteers have deep roots in the LGBTQ community.
  • In 2003, with support from the Pride Foundation, Compassion & Choices of Washington created the LGBTQ End-of-Life Advice & Hospital Visitation Authorization brochure, the first brochure of its kind in the United States.

New York Times. 1990.

“Hemlock leader (Derek Humphry) leaves cancer stricken wife .”

Born during the AIDS epidemic, Compassion & Choices’ work on aid in dying always included large contingents of LGBT individuals, educated or not. Coombs Lee. LGBT and C&C.

“The Hemlock Society, a once obscure group who has seen its controversial message of voluntary euthanasia become vastly more accepted in recent years as a result of the AIDS epidemic.”


At AIDS Epicenter, Seeking Swift Sure Death

SAN FRANCISCO, June 20, 1993   Scores of gay men gathered last week in a church meeting room here, at the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic, to learn which drugs to use for suicide, how to avoid a botched attempt and whether to involve their loved ones and doctors.

The unusual how-to seminar was led by Derek Humphry, the founder of the Hemlock Society and the author of a best-selling suicide manual, who said that teaching people to kill themselves was a “sad commentary on our society” but a logical development in a country that largely outlaws doctor-assisted suicide.

“If people are revolted by what I’m saying and doing, then we must change the law,” said Mr. Humphry, whose presentation here included a demonstration of how to use a plastic bag and a rubber band for self-asphyxiation. “I’d be only too willing to stop.”

Death with Dignity and Self-Determination

June 9, 2015 – Huffington Post

By Gender Rights Maryland

I generally write on LGBT issues, and I will add that this is an LGBT issue as well.

. . . for those who’ve lived much of their lives in a closet, who have ceded control of their being to outside forces, the opportunity to die on one’s own terms is critical. The pain for those of us in the community to have our independence extinguished at the end might in and of itself be too much to bear.