The Dark Dealings of the Misnamed "Compassion & Choices"


Former London Sunday Times reporter Derek Humphry founded the Hemlock Society in his garage in Santa Monica, California, in 1980, five years after helping his first wife Jean to die. From 1980 to 1992, he built it into a national organization, but by 1996 it had fractured into nine disparate factions "rarely speaking to each other." In 2005, two of the four still standing merged and took the name Compassion & Choices.

Compassion & Choices identifies itself as "the leading nonprofit organization committed to helping everyone have the best death possible." Its work is twofold: (1) political—advancing legislation, judicial rulings, and public support for expanded "options" at the end of life, and (2) informational—providing End-of Life Consultation and resources such as advance directives and "Good-to-Go" toolkits.

Reason for Surveillance

By the end-of-life stage, a person is well along a route that has been informed by his worldview and directed by his choices. It would be too easy (and too shallow) to charge Compassion & Choices with merely preying on the dying at their extreme point of vulnerability, though they indeed do that. To the extent that Compassion & Choices meets with "success," it's because the ill traveler has already acquiesced to a materialistic view of existence: that life is all about the experience—maximizing happiness, minimizing suffering, and, above all, doing it on one's own terms.

Compassion & Choices is bent on advancing this worldview—literally to death—under the guise of compassion. "Aid in Dying," "Death with Dignity," and "End-of-Life Choices" are the preferred catchphrases ("assisted suicide" is considered biased), but, regardless of terminology, Compassion & Choices is all about choosing death over life.

By contrast, the Judeo-Christian worldview has always held that life is about more than the experience—that life is a trust from God, and death is a defeated enemy. Compassion & Choices is about preemptively surrendering this fuller embrace of life to a preference for death.

But this isn't compassion. The word compassion means "to suffer with." The "Aid in Dying" movement isn't about suffering with the dying. It's about cutting off the dying—putting them, not just out of sight, but literally out of the land of the living. This is more like anti-compassion. And, worse, the movement is enlisting public, state, and medical community complicity in the preference. "We are experts in what it takes to die well." As if dying well (whatever that means) is the meaning of life.

Most Recent Offense

Last year, 29-year-old cancer patient Brittany Maynard became the newest face of the movement when she announced she would end her life under Oregon's "Aid in Dying" law on November 1. Compassion & Choices touted her decision through a multi-pronged publicity campaign, one prong of which invited people to follow her blog and sign an electronic card to "wish her well" and "let her know how much you care." Then, without their knowledge, the organization added the card signers' names to petitions for submission to state legislatures in support of "Aid in Dying" legislation.

Apart from the immorality of the cause, the use by Compassion & Choices of Brittany's name and story to advance its agenda is perfectly permissible. She was a fellow traveler. But the misappropriation of well-meaning well-wishers' names is another matter. We've already seen that Compassion & Choices isn't about compassion. Here we see that it also isn't about choice. All that leaves is death. Clearly, Compassion & Choices is all about death.

has a BS in Computer Science and worked as a software engineer with IBM until she hopped off the career track to be a full-time mom. She lives in Indianapolis, IN, and writes on apologetics and matters of faith.

This article originally appeared in Salvo, Issue #32, Spring 2015 Copyright © 2020 Salvo |