Barbara Coombs Lee
Barbara Coombs Lee is president of Compassion & Choices, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving care and expanding choice at the end of life. She practiced as a nurse and physician assistant for 25 years before beginning a career in law and health policy. Since then she has devoted her professional life to individual choice and empowerment in healthcare.
As a private attorney, as counsel to the Oregon State Senate, as a managed-care executive and finally as chief petitioner for Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, she has championed initiatives that enable individuals to consider a full range of choices and be full participants in their healthcare decisions.
Since Gonzales v. Oregon – the lawsuit defending the Oregon assisted-dying law – Ms. Coombs Lee has been interviewed and quoted by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, and appeared on NBC News, CNN’s Crossfire, 60 Minutes, The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, NPR, The Today Show and The Dr. Oz Show, among others.
Recognized with a National Health Policy Fellowship from Boehringer Ingelheim Foundation, an American Jurisprudence Award for outstanding performance in the study of medical law and a National Health Lawyers Association scholarship for outstanding student achievement, she has also testified before the U.S. Congress on end-of-life issues.
Ms. Coombs Lee studied literature and nursing at Vassar College and Cornell University, and earned advanced degrees in law and medicine from the University of Washington and Lewis & Clark College. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar.