Organization Trends

The Worrying Financial Backers of the Right-To-Die Movement

The Right-to-Die Movement is a collection of nonprofits and activists who promote the adoption of legislation based off the 1997 Oregon Death with Dignity Act. The act allows terminally ill individuals to commit suicide via a lethal dose of medication prescribed by a physician for that explicit purpose. The thought of a physician giving medication to end a life rather than save one is already disturbing, but it’s part of an overall anti-life agenda funded by the same people who proclaim that abortion is healthcare.

The three organizational frontrunners of the movement are the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations: Compassion & Choices, the Death with Dignity National Center, and its 501(c)(4) arm, the Death with Dignity Political Fund.

Compassion & Choices is by far the best funded, with approximately $31 million in grant revenue since its founding in 2005. Their largest contributors are the Kohlberg Foundation at over $9 million; the Foundation to Promote Open Society at $8.2 million; and the now-defunct Irene Diamond Fund at around $5.2 million. Death with Dignity National Center comes in a distant second in terms of revenue when compared to Compassion & Choices. Since 1999, it only received a total of $1.63 million. The largest contributors include the Open Society Institute (now the Open Society Foundations) at $540,000 and the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation at $305,000. The Schwab Charitable Fund facilitated giving a combined $34,300 throughout 2013-2014 and 2016-2017 through its donor-advised funds. The only available information regarding the Death with Dignity Political Fund’s funding is a $40,000 pass-through grant from the Death with Dignity National Center in 2017.

All three organizations have worked on legislation similar to the original Oregon Death with Dignity Act in Washington, Montana, Vermont, California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Hawaii, New Jersey, and Maine. Furthermore, all three organizations contributed funds to defend against the two legal challenges to Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.

Death with Dignity National Center and Death with Dignity Political Fund have set themselves apart from Compassion & Choices in their plans to implement a “Regional Coordination System” to manage their advocacy efforts in multiple states to increase their efficiency and expansion rate.

Despite the funding these organizations received and the headway they’ve made, what truly makes them worrisome for many pro-life advocates are their connections to other forces on the political Left. Compassion & Choice’s chief legal advocacy officer Kevin Diaz was the director of the Oregon ACLU. Their national director of political advocacy Charmaine Manansala was a senior advisor to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and she previously worked for the area political director of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Finally, their Board Treasurer, Dan Grossman, is concurrently a board member of the Atlas Network, and the Foundation for Economic Education. What Death with Dignity National Center lacks in funding it makes up for in well-connected personnel. Campaign strategist Mark Glaze was the executive director of Everytown for Gun Safety and a consultant for a variety of organizations, such as the Open Society Foundations, the Human Rights Campaign, the American Federation of Teachers, and Amnesty International. Furthermore, Eli D. Stutsman, Death with Dignity National Center’s Board Secretary, was the co-founder of Oregon Right to Die, the PAC that supported the original 1997 law.

Activists want you to think this is a small, harmless, and apolitical cause. But the checkbooks behind the cause are very large, and very partisan. The Open Society Foundations (aka Open Society Institute), Foundation to Promote Open Society, and Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation fund almost exclusively left-of-center movements and nonprofits such as the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. This is no different. This movement is an affront to human life. To add insult to injury, it is clearly a partisan move by the political Left to assert more control in states. Watch for this movement to build like a snowball rolling downhill.

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