Last updated on: 2/4/2009 | Author:

Barbara Coombs Lee, JD Biography

President, Compassion & Choices
Pro to the question "Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?"

“The problem is that medical science has conquered the gentle and peaceful deaths and left the humiliating and agonizing to run their relentless downhill course. The suffering of these individuals is not trivial and it is not addressed by anything medical science has to offer. Faced with this dilemma, the problem for many is that the law turns loving families into criminals. It separates loved ones at the end, when it is most important to be close. It encourages patients to choose violent and premature deaths while they still have the strength to act. And it forces some to suffer through a slow and agonizing death that contradicts the very meaning and fabric of their lives…

When we know that certain rare and desperate cases call for a compassionate response in the form of assisted death our democratic heritage demands that the law be consistent with that knowledge.”

Testimony Before The U.S. House Subcommittee On The Constitution Concerning The Legality Of Assisted Suicide, April 29, 1996

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • President, Compassion & Choices
  • President, Compassion in Dying, 1996-2004
  • Chief Petitioner, Oregon Death with Dignity Act
  • Adjunct, University of Washington School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine
  • Counsel, Oregon State Senate
  • Former managed care executive
  • Health policy analyst, George Washington University
  • Former nurse and physician assistant
  • National Health Policy Fellowship, Boeringer Ingeheim Foundation
  • American Jurisprudence Award for outstanding performance in the study of medical law
  • National Health Lawyers Association scholarship for outstanding student achievement
  • JD, Lewis & Clark College
  • FNP, University of Washington
  • BA, Vassar College and Cornell University
  • None found
Quoted in:
  1. Should Euthanasia or Physician-Assisted Suicide Be Legal?
  2. Would Improving Palliative Care Decrease Patient Requests for Physician-Assisted Suicide?