End of Life Liberty Project
End of Life Liberty Project (ELLP) is at the forefront of a national movement to protect and to expand the rights of mentally competent, terminally ill patients at the end of life. These include the right to receive appropriate supportive and palliative care, and the right to effective and aggressive pain and symptom management.
ELLP brings cutting-edge cases throughout the United States to establish the right of the individual to choose a peaceful death through aid-in-dying. It is the leading advocacy organization using litigation as a tool to expand end-of-life liberty.
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The End of Life Liberty Project works to ensure that everyone has the autonomy and the access to care they need to make important decisions about their own bodies and medical treatment when serious illness strikes. This includes decisions about medical treatment, accepting or declining treatment, directing removal of life prolonging interventions, receiving appropriate pain and symptom management and palliative care. Consistent with its commitment to patient empowerment, ELLP advocates that mentally competent, terminally ill patients, who find themselves trapped in an unbearable dying process, should have the right to choose a more peaceful death through aid-in-dying.
Palliative Care and Pain Management
ELLP supports patients having information about and the ability to access the entire range of palliative care and pain management treatments available to relieve symptoms associated with many types of serious illness. The Program advocates for patients with medical, palliative care and hospice communities so patients are provided the full level of relief. When necessary and appropriate, ELLP may also bring law suits supporting the provision of the level of palliative care, and aggressive pain and symptom management necessary to relieve acute suffering. ELLP is dedicated to ensuring the expansion of this freedom.
Advance Health Care Directives
All individuals should think about and document their wishes for the medical interventions they want/do not want in the event they are unable to express theses wishes themselves. Advance health care directives are a set of written instructions an individual provides to loved ones and health care providers about medical care and treatment he/she does and does not wish to receive. These forms vary from state to state. For more information, go to https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/publication/advance-care-planning.
Generally speaking, individuals are advised to make written record of four types of information and to provide witnesses and legalities required by state law:
- Power of Attorney for Health Care names someone to make medical decisions for a person who has become incapacitated. The individual should not only complete the power of attorney but also speak with the person appointed in advance so he/she understands the patient’s wishes as fully as possible.
- Living Will provides instructions about life-sustaining medical treatment. Be sure to speak with health care professionals to understand all medical options.
- Organ Donation expresses a person’s wishes about specific organ and/or tissue donation.
- Primary Physician provides contact information for a person’s primary doctor so medical history and records can be obtained when necessary.
- Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST) reflects the patient’s wishes in the form of a Physician’s Order and should be considered by those with a life expectancy of one year or less. POLST is effective across treatment settings and enhances the chance that the patient’s wishes will be respected.
Ending Medical Treatment
ELLP advocates for people with cancer and other serious illnesses so they may receive the best possible medical care. However, at some point in time, managing a condition as chronic or achieving a cure may no longer be possible. When this occurs, every patient in the United States has the right to accept or to reject life prolonging medical treatment, including medications, feeding tubes, ventilators and cardiac devices. Decisions about accepting, forgoing or directing withdrawal of life prolonging treatment may change the timing of death and should be discussed fully and openly with physicians. Patients who choose to decline or to cease life prolonging treatment should receive palliative care to minimize discomfort. In this way, quality of life may be improved while recognizing that time of death may be advanced.
If pain and/or other distressing symptoms are not relieved with aggressive, conventional palliative care, a patient has the right to choose palliative sedation – an intervention where the patient is sedated to unconsciousness and food and fluid are withheld until death arrives.
As a supporter of individual autonomy and empowerment, ELLP advocates for mentally competent, terminally ill patients to have the option of a more peaceful death through aid-in-dying. Medical practice in some states allows a physician to provide such patient with a prescription for medication the patient may ingest to achieve a peaceful death. Death in such cases is caused by the underlying disease, and a patient choosing aid-in-dying seeks only to shorten a dying process.
Timothy Quill, MD, wrote an article (“Death and Dignity;” The New England Journal of Medicine; 324: 691-694; March 7, 1991, http://www.nejm.org/doi/pdf/10.1056/NEJM199103073241010) about one his patients, a 45-year-old wife and mother he called “Diane.” She was a clear-headed person with the best medical care, who was dying of acute leukemia. Medical treatment and palliative care, which was initially beneficial in maintaining a good quality of life for Diane, eventually failed. Her cancer could be neither cured nor managed as a chronic condition.
Diane felt she was losing control over her own body due to constant fevers, unrelenting pain in her bones and severe weakness. She wanted to shorten what she experienced as a protracted and unbearable dying process. It was feared that Diane might try to end her life violently and perhaps even fail at it, thus causing a prolonged death for herself and emotional agony for her family. She withstood all she could from her illness and then made rational and repeated requests of her physician to help her in achieving a more peaceful death. Quill provided the aid she requested. Diane died peacefully at home, as she wished, after taking the prescribed barbiturates.
After the article was published, a grand jury was impaneled by the local district attorney seeking an indictment against Quill. After Quill testified in his own defense, the grand jury declined to indict. Next, the state medical board considered revoking Quill’s medical license but decided against such action. Since then, Quill has become recognized as one of the nation’s leading palliative care physicians. He heads the palliative care service at a major medical center and teaching hospital, and serves as president of the American Academy of Palliative Medicine.
ELLP Executive Director Kathryn Tucker, JD, Quill has been involved in numerous cases challenging the application of criminal laws concerning assisted suicide and in favor of recognition of a constitutional right to privacy and liberty in a patient’s decision to choose aid-in-dying. Advocacy in support of legislation has also been fruitful. Quill’s sharing of the story of his patient Diane ignited the movement to empower dying patients with a broader range of choice at end of life, including aid-in-dying.
Status of Aid-in-Dying Nationally
A barrier to aid-in-dying has been the widespread assumption that antiquated laws prohibiting“suicide” and “assisting suicide” might apply to physicians providing a competent, terminally ill patient with a prescription for medication to achieve a peaceful death. ELLP asserts such laws do not properly reach this medical conduct because the choice of a dying patient for a peaceful death is starkly and fundamentally different from “suicide.” This claim is advanced in a series of cases DRLC is involved with, including Morris v NM, Myers v NY and Brody v CA.
If physicians are to be free to counsel and to assist patients who request aid-in-dying, these laws either need to be clarified with further legislation, with litigation seeking declaratory judgment of the obvious differences between suicide and aid-in-dying or with litigation asserting a constitutional right to privacy and autonomy when it comes to a decision to access aid-in-dying. ELLP engages in all three efforts and is actively working to establish the right to choose aid-in-dying.
In 1997, in a pair of cases brought before the U.S. Supreme Court by Tucker, Glucksberg v Washington and Quill v NY, the Court addressed the question of whether the US Constitution protects the choice of a mentally competent, terminally ill patient to request aid-in-dying. The Court was sympathetic to the plight of such patients and recognized the right of patients to receive as much pain medication as necessary even if it advanced time of death. However, it refrained from deciding whether the US Constitution mandates respecting the choice for aid-in-dying. Instead, the Court turned the issue back to the “laboratory of the states” for the time being. Read the decision. [United States Supreme Court: Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997); Quill, 521 U.S. 793 (1997), http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/boundvolumes/521bv.pdf]
The right to aid-in-dying was supported in the US Supreme Court by an array of organizations, including civil rights groups, medical associations, bioethicists, survivor groups and religious groups even in 1997 when there was no open practice for aid-in-dying in the United States. Since then, the “laboratory” has functioned as the US Supreme Court contemplated: Within the past two decades abundant evidence about who chooses aid-in-dying and what impact its availability has on patient care has been developed. This evidence has supported the emergence of wide and growing support for the practice among medical, mental health and health policy professionals. Support in the public has grown in the wake of stories like Brittany Maynard’s.
State-Based Laws & Cases Recognizing the Right to Aid-in-Dying
Several states, including some in Cascadia, have explicitly legalized aid-in-dying through enactment of permissive statutes. The experience of those states has proved that the autonomy of dying patients may be respected without posing harm to vulnerable populations or to the provision of good end-of-life care.
In 1998 Oregon pioneered implementation of a Death with Dignity Act enacted by voter initiative. Read the Act here. The Oregon statute has served as a model for other state statutes, and its implementation has generated abundant evidence about who chooses aid in dying and why. As recognized by many medical and health policy organizations, including the American Public Health Association (which carefully reviewed the data available from Oregon where such choice has now been available for more than 18 years), the open practice of aid-in-dying raises the bar for good end-of-life care for all terminally ill patients in Oregon while providing relief to a relatively small number of patients who choose it. An interesting finding is that a significant percent of patients who obtain the medication are comforted to have it but do not ingest it. The open practice supports candid discussion of patient fears, wishes and hopes regarding their dying process, thus improving doctor-patient communication. Palliative care and aggressive pain management have been improved. Speculation about potential adverse impact on vulnerable populations has been disproved.
In 2008 Washington enacted a Death with Dignity Act modeled after Oregon’s and also enacted by voter initiative.
In 2009 the right to aid-in-dying was established through a decision of the Supreme Court of Montana in a case lead by Tucker known as Baxter v Montana. The Court held that laws criminalizing the assistance of suicide do not apply to physician aid-in-dying. Since then aid-in-dying has been openly available in Montana subject to the Court decision and standard of care. Practice of aid-in-dying in Montana is similar to states with statutory permissions of the practice in that it is limited to mentally competent, terminally ill patients able to self-administer the medication to achieve a peaceful death. However, in Montana there are no extensive procedures mandated by statute for multiple requests, witnessing, waiting period, data collection and reporting. Montana’s practice reflects a normalization of aid-in-dying within the practice of medicine. Efforts by opponents of aid-in-dying to prohibit the practice have failed.
In January 2015 ELLP filed a case in San Francisco, in California state court, asserting that the antiquated statute prohibiting “assisting” a “suicide” did not reach the conduct of a physician providing aid-in-dying or, alternatively, that such statute violated the rights of privacy and/or equal protection guaranteed by the California Constitution. While this case was pending, California became the second state to adopt a statutory permission for aid-in-dying through the legislative process. California’s law, the End of Life Option Act, is also modeled after the Oregon measure though more restrictive in significant ways. ELLP asserts that burdens imposed by this law would not survive constitutional scrutiny and continues to litigate its case asserting that the choice of aid-in-dying is worthy of protection under the California State Constitution.
In 2013 Vermont became the first state to enact a statutory permission for aid-in-dying via the traditional legislative process. The statute initially contained provisions that would have departed from the Oregon model after a 3-year period, but those provisions were repealed and the statute is an Oregon-style measure.
A trial court in New Mexico, after trial, found that the right to choose aid-in-dying was a fundamental right protected by the New Mexico Constitution. A fractured appellate panel reversed. The Supreme Court of New Mexico heard the argument October 2016. A decision is expected soon.
In February 2015 ELLP filed a case in New York in state court asserting that the antiquated statute prohibiting “assisting” a “suicide” did not reach the conduct of a physician providing aid-in-dying or, alternatively, that such statute violated the rights of privacy and/or equal protection guaranteed by the New York State Constitution.
Organizational History and Leadership
The End of Life Liberty Project is a think tank and effective social change agent focused on protecting and expanding the rights of terminally ill patients. It conceives, develops, and implements bold, creative advocacy to promote changes in law and policy that lead to improvements in end of life care and expanding the autonomy of terminally ill patients. The ELLP’s goal: to empower terminally ill patients with information and options, enabling each to make the journey through their illness in a manner most consistent with their preferences, values and beliefs. The ELLP is lead by the nation’s leading advocate for end of life liberty, Kathryn Tucker. The ELLP was founded in 2015 as a program within the Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC), the nation’s oldest disability advocacy organization, during the tenure of Kathryn Tucker as DRLC’s Executive Director. This was a transformational moment in the movement for end of life liberty, as the disability advocacy community had until then presented a unified front of opposition to expanding end of life liberty. DRLC’s launch of the ELLP makes clear that commitment to disability rights and end of life liberty can be reconciled. The ELLP is uniquely positioned to educate the public, professionals and policy makers about this, and to move the nation forward in the social change movement to expand end-of-life liberty. Tucker became ED of DRLC after a record of success in leading the advocacy work of another non-profit, Compassion & Choices, for two decades. Tucker’s work to protect and expand the rights of the terminally ill has put her at the forefront of nearly every advocacy effort in this arena in the United States since 1990.
The ELLP is guided by an outstanding team of advisors comprised of the nation’s leading practitioners, educators, and clinicians from the fields of law, medicine and health policy with special expertise in protecting and expanding the rights of the terminally ill (see sidebar.) The ELLP conceives, strategizes and implements effective efforts to advance end of life liberty across the United States. Identifying the best place to engage an advocacy effort is a particular strength of the ELLP. When a strategy is selected, the ELLP takes the essential leadership role of assembling an elite team of those with the necessary expertise and deep roots in the chosen forum, with insider knowledge of how best to move the particular strategy forward in that forum, in collaboration with ELLP. Given the cutting edge nature of the work, and the opportunity to work with the ELLP, these teams provide their valuable services on a pro bono basis, leveraging every dollar donated to the ELLP. (appendix 1)
The End of Life Liberty Project:
- Creates More Options for Terminally Ill Patients: Expanding End of Life Liberty to Include Aid in Dying Modern medicine can prolong the dying process to a point that a patient may feel trapped in a torturous, lingering decline. Suffering may become unbearable; some patients want a swifter, more peaceful death through aid-in-dying. The ELLP seeks to expand end-of-life liberty through impact litigation in state and federal courts to ensure that mentally competent terminally ill patients can choose a peaceful death, consistent with their preferences, values and beliefs. Such litigation often includes pressing for recognition that this choice is deserving of protection as a matter of state and/or federal constitutional right. (appendix 2)
- Explores New Frontiers in Palliative Care: Progress in reducing physical pain and discomfort due to terminal illness has been dramatic throughout the past two decades. However, less progress has been made in helping patients reduce anxiety about, or come to terms with, psychological and existential issues raised by impending death. Compelling clinical findings about the efficacy of psychotherapy with psychedelic agents to relieve anxiety among terminally ill patients are emerging. ELLP is in the forefront of developing advocacy to expand access to these medicines in the context of medical and mental health care of terminally ill patients. One of the ELLP’s first projects in this arena, in collaboration with the Drug Policy Alliance, is the convening of a symposium to be hosted by the University of Washington Schools of Law, Medicine and Public Health in 2017, exploring the state of the research, its implications for palliative care, and how advocacy can best achieve changes in law and policy making access possible.
Evolves the Discussion and Erodes Opposition to End of Life Liberty: The ELLP was founded and launched in a respected disability rights organization and is committed to evolving the discussion about end-of-life liberty in the disability rights community. The ELLP participates in conferences identifying common ground in disability and patient rights and publishes articles in leading journals of law, medicine and health policy elucidating that the same principles that animate support for one also support the other, fostering support for end-of-life liberty in the disability rights community.
1. The ELLP leverages its ability to engage a wide range of cutting edge advocacy by working with outstanding teams of attorneys across the country; top litigators from leading law firms are excited to work with the ELLP, providing donated legal services. As needed, ELLP has access to many of the nation’s leading constitutional practitioners and scholars, interested in the work and mission of the ELLP, including for example Professor Laurence Tribe, Harvard Law School, Professor Michael Dorf, Cornell, and Professor and Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, University of California, Irvine.
2. Cases in which Tucker has had a leadership role include Glucksberg v WA(SCOTUS 1997); Quill v NY(SCOTUS 1997); Oregon et al v Ashcroft/Gonzales(SCOTUS 2001); Baxter v Montana(MT Sup Ct 2009); Morris v New Mexico(pending); Brody v CA; Myers v NY(pending).
The End of Life Liberty Project In Action
(click to enlarge)
ELLP Leadership Team
KATHRYN L. TUCKER, J.D.
Kathryn L. Tucker, a graduate of Georgetown University Law School and Hampshire College, is Executive Director of the End of Life Liberty Project (ELLP), which she founded during her tenure as Executive Director of the Disability Rights Legal Center (DRLC), the nation’s oldest disability rights advocacy organization. Previously Tucker served two decades as Director of Advocacy and Legal Affairs for Compassion & Choices, working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life. Prior to that, Ms. Tucker practiced law with Perkins Coie. She has held faculty appointments as Associate Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles and as Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Washington, Seattle University and Lewis & Clark Schools of Law, teaching in the areas of law, medicine and ethics, with a focus on the end of life. In April 2014, Professor Tucker was named a Fulbright Specialist by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the Institute of International Education’s Council for International Exchange of Scholars, to share her scholarship abroad. She served as a Fulbright Specialist with Faculty Appointments at the Universities of Auckland, Canterbury and Otago in March 2015.
Ms. Tucker served as lead counsel representing patients and physicians in two landmark federal cases decided by the United States Supreme Court, Washington v. Glucksberg and Vacco v. Quill, asserting that mentally competent terminally ill patients have a constitutional right to choose aid in dying. These cases are widely acknowledged to have prompted nationwide effort and much-needed attention to improving care of the dying, and to have established a federal constitutional right to aggressive pain management.
Ms. Tucker also handles state constitutional litigation asserting claims of a similar nature, including Baxter v. Montana which established the right to choose aid in dying as a matter of state law. She currently is handling similar cases in New York and California.
Ms. Tucker played a key role in successfully defending the Oregon Death with Dignity Act from attack by the United States Department of Justice in Oregon v. Gonzales, representing the patient plaintiff intervenors through proceedings before the Federal District Court, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Also experienced and skillful in legislative advocacy, Ms. Tucker was involved in the development of, and successful campaigns to pass, the Washington Death with Dignity Act (2008) and Vermont’s Patient Choice at the End of Life Act (2013).
Ms. Tucker is recognized as a national leader in spearheading creative and effective efforts to promote improved care for seriously ill and dying patients. She served as co-counsel in the first case in the nation to assert that failure to treat pain adequately constitutes elder abuse, which resulted in a finding of liability and a jury verdict award of $1.5 million to the patient’s family. She has been principal author of various state legislative measures, to ensure physician education in pain management and provision of information to terminally ill patients about end-of- life care options. She also defends physicians facing adverse consequences for treating pain attentively and aggressively.
Ms. Tucker is listed in the prestigious directory Who’s Who in American Law and was recognized as Lawyer of the Year, Runner-Up by the National Law Journal. She appears frequently on television and radio discussing end-of- life care, decision-making and physician assisted dying.
Media appearances include Crossfire, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Larry King and CNN. Her work has been profiled in the National Law Journal, American Lawyer, Journal of the American Bar Association, Legal Times, and the magazines George, Vogue, Time, People and Health, among others.
Professor Tucker is an invited speaker at educational programs on the subjects of improving care at the end of life, end-of- life decision-making, and aid in dying. She has presented to the American Bar Association, the Association of American Law Schools, the American Society of Law, Medicine and Ethics, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys, the American Pain Society, the American Academy of Pain Management, the Federation of State Medical Boards, and the American College of Legal Medicine.
End of Life Liberty Project Advisory Committee
Robert V. Brody, MD
Attending physician Medicine and Pain Services, Ethics Committee and
Chief, Pain Consultation Clinic, San Francisco General Hospital
Medical Director, Health at Home, San Francisco Department of Public
Health Clinical Professor of Medicine and Family & Community Medicine, UCSF. Dr. Brody is one of the nation’s leading palliative care physicians. He
served many years on the Board of Compassion & Choices. Dr. Brody is a
plaintiff in Brody v California, a case seeking to expand end of life liberty in
Kathy L. Cerminara, JD
Professor of Law Nova Southeastern University. Professor Cerminara is one of the nation’s leading scholars and
educators in the field of patient rights, disability, and end of life law and
policy. She is a co-author of the definitive treatise, The Right to Die: The Law of End-of-Life Decision making. She has explored issues of end of life law and policy from a disability rights perspective, and published papers in this area of scholarship.
Laura Schauer Ives, JD
Kennedy Kennedy & Ives, LLC. Laura is former Legal Director of the ACLU of New Mexico, a leading civil rights litigator and served as co-counsel in Morris v New Mexico, seeking to expand end of life liberty in New Mexico.
Ellen LaPointe, JD
President & CEO Northern California Grantmakers. Ellen has over 20 years of experience building strategic partnerships in both the private and public sector, including serving as vice president of strategic partnerships at HopeLab, a foundation that leverages technology to improve health and well-being. She also served as Executive Director of Project Inform, a national non-profit AIDS treatment information and advocacy organization, and Director of Clinical Research at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco. An attorney, Ellen previously practiced law with Heller Ehrman, where she was part of a team working to defend the Oregon Death with Dignity Act from attack by the United States Attorney General John Ashcroft.
Sylvia A. Law, JD
Professor of Law, Medicine and Psychiatry NYU Law School.
For more than four decades, Professor Law has been one of the nation’s leading scholars and advocates in the fields of health law, patient rights, gender justice and constitutional law. She has played a major role in dozens of civil rights cases before the US Supreme Court and in lower state and federal courts. Sylvia was the first lawyer in the nation selected as a MacArthur Fellow. She co-directs the Hayes Program at NYU School of Law. She has been active in leadership of the Society of American Law Teachers. Professor Law served several terms on the Board of Compassion & Choices before joining the Advisory Committee of the End of Life Liberty Project.
David C. Leven, JD
Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Consultant End of Life Choices New York. David was the Executive Director of End of Life Choices New York from 2002-2016. A leading advocate for patients and an expert on advance
care planning, patient rights, palliative care and end-of-life issues, David has
played a key role in legislation enacted in New York to improve pain management and palliative care. David lectures frequently to diverse professional groups, students and citizens and is a regular guest lecturer at College of New Rochelle School of Nursing and Fordham Graduate School of Social Service. He is the recipient of numerous awards including the Public
Interest Law Award of the New York State Bar Association, Public Interest Law Committee.
Alicia Ouellette, JD
Dean Oulette is the Dean of Albany Law School. Prior to her appointment as Dean, she served as a Professor of Law. Her research focuses on health law, disability rights, family law, children's rights, and human reproduction. She is author of Bioethics and Disability: Toward a Disability Conscious Bioethics. She has authored numerous articles published in academic journals including the American Journal of Law and Medicine, the Hastings Center Report, the American Journal of Bioethics, the Hastings Law Journal, among others. Dean Ouellette served as an Assistant Solicitor General in the New York State-Attorney General's office, handling more than 100 appeals including a landmark case involving termination of treatment for the terminally ill. She was lead counsel on the law professors' amicus brief submitted in support of same-sex couples who sought the right to marry in New York State.
Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD
Director of the Health Law Institute and Professor of Law Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Professor Pope directs the Health Law Institute at Mitchell Hamline. Before entering academia, Pope clerked for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and practiced law with Arnold & Porter LLP. Professor Pope received both a JD and a PhD (philosophy and bioethics) from Georgetown University. A prolific writer, Professor Pope has over 120 publications in journals of law, medicine and bioethics; much of his scholarship is in the field of law, medicine and ethics at the end of life.
Timothy E. Quill MD, FACP, FAAHPM
Distinguished Professor in Palliative Care Professor of Medicine, Psychiatry and Medical Humanities Director, Center for Ethics, Humanities and Palliative Care University of Rochester School of Medicine. Dr. Quill is one of the nation’s leading palliative care clinicians, and is a past president of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He has published and lectured widely about various aspects of the doctor-patient relationship, with special focus on end-of-life decision making. He is the author of many books on end-of life, including Physician-Assisted Dying: The Case for Palliative Care and Patient Choice, Caring for Patients at the End of Life: Facing an Uncertain Future Together, and A Midwife Through the Dying Process: Stories of Healing and Hard Choices at the End of Life, and numerous articles published in major medical journals including "Death and Dignity: A Case of Individualized Decision Making" in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Edwin G. Schallert
Partner, Debevoise & Plimpton, LLP. Ed specializes in complex civil litigation. He is past Chair of the Committee on Federal Courts of the New York City Bar Association, member of the Pro Bono Panel of the Second Circuit and Chair of the Board of Directors of Measures for Justice. He served as a law clerk to United States Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, after clerking for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Ed holds degrees from Stanford University, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Harvard Law School; while at Harvard he was Managing Editor of the Harvard Law Review. Ed is co-counsel in Myers v NY, which seeks to expand end of life liberty in NY.
Robert Schwartz, JD
Senior Visiting Professor, UC Hastings College of the Law Weihofen Professor Emeritus, University of New Mexico. Professor Schwartz is a nationally recognized scholar in the area of
bioethics and health law. He is co-author of "Health Law: Cases, Materials and Problems," the first textbook to focus on the field of Health Law, and now the leading Health Law textbook in the country, "Treatise on Health Law," and is co-editor of a volume of Health Law statutes. Most recently, his writing is in the areas of end-of-life care, death and dying. Rob serves on the editorial boards of the "Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics," Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy" and the "Medical Law Review." A former member of the Board of Compassion & Choices, Rob has served on the Advisory Committee to the ELLP since its formation. He authored one of
the amicus briefs in Morris v New Mexico.
Peter J. Strauss, JD
Of Counsel, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP. Peter is Of Counsel to Drinker Biddle & Reath, LLP, and is Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law at New York Law School where he teaches Elder Law and Aging in America and directs the Elder Law Clinic. A pioneer of the Elder Law bar, Peter was a founder of the National Academy of
Elder Law Attorneys, was among the first lawyers elected as a Fellow of the
Academy, and has special expertise in end of life law and policy. Among
many honors, he has been recognized as Elder Law “Lawyer of the Year.” Peter has served on the Board of End of Life Choices New York for many years.
Nicholas W. van Aelstyn, JD
Principal, Beveridge & Diamond, P.C.
Nico has more than 25 years of litigation experience with leading San Francisco based law firms. His interest in end of life law and policy lead him
to take the role of co-counsel in federal litigation defending the Oregon Death
with Dignity Act from attack by the United States Department of Justice; this representation was successful on every level, including before the United
States Supreme Court. More recently he served as co-counsel in Brody v California, a case seeking to expand end of life liberty in California.
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