It is our great pleasure to introduce HALO’s new Executive Director, Anne O’Meara. In just a few weeks on the job, Anne has proven to be a dynamo brimming with wonderful plans for HALO. Anne is highly qualified to manage HALO and promote its life-affirming mission. She has worked in the business world for 20 years as a human resources manager and a benefits manager, among other positions. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loras College, Dubuque, IA, with a major in English and minor in Business.

Anne is married to Patrick and is the mother of two children, both adopted from Guatemala. Anne states, “They have turned our lives upside down – in a good way of course!”  They are a very busy family with band, orchestra, track, cross country, and Nordic skiing. Anne grew up in a large family on an Iowa farm and maintains close relationships with her many relatives.

Anne’s faith is very important to her. She serves her church community in many capacities and is a sidewalk counselor at an abortion clinic.

The Healthcare Advocacy and Leadership Organization’s Board of Directors welcomes Anne O’Meara with joy, thanking God for the newest member of HALO’s team and for the amazing ways He continually answers our prayers.

I have always been passionately pro-life regarding abortion. However, it was only a few years ago that I became equally passionate about “end-of-life” issues. This new passion largely stems from two different, yet similar events – one very public and the other private.

Many of you remember Brittany Maynard. Brittany was a newly married, beautiful 29-year-old woman who, on New Year’s Day 2014, learned she had brain cancer. Several months later, she and her husband moved from California to Oregon so she could take advantage of Oregon’s “Death with Dignity” (a.k.a. imposed death) law. In early October of 2014, Brittany announced her decision to commit physician-assisted suicide (PAS). On November 1, 2014, Brittany ended her life by taking the lethal dose of drugs prescribed by a physician. At that time, the average age of people who died by PAS in Oregon was 71. Young Brittany didn’t fit the mold. Proponents of physician-assisted suicide were almost giddy. It seemed that Brittany had changed the optics and gotten people of her generation interested in the movement to legalize PAS throughout the United States.

Compassion & Choices set in motion a campaign to take advantage of Brittany’s unique appeal. Her story garnered an incredible amount of coverage from the news media. I repeatedly heard what a "courageous" young woman she was and what a "heroic” decision she was making to "die with dignity." I remember my disbelief and horror at both the number of people who supported Brittany and their passion for her "right to die." I questioned how something like this could be happening so blatantly in a civilized country like the U.S. Even then, I sensed that Brittany would become the poster child for physician-assisted suicide.

Fast forward to 2016. My mom was 87. She had heart issues and dementia. In the months preceding 2016, Mom experienced fainting spells (related to heart arrythmia) and, at least two times, had been rushed by ambulance to the emergency room of a Christian hospital. Each time, it seemed like the hospital staff (different staff members on each occasion) were reluctant to treat her. They repeatedly told us that she was old, had lived a good life, and there was nothing they could do. The message was clear. They simply wanted to send her home to die.

Finally, having heard how helpful hospice was, we found a hospice for Mom. After a couple of weeks there, she was diagnosed with a bladder infection. The hospice refused to treat the infection but said they would give her pain medication to keep her comfortable. My siblings and I were horrified. We removed Mom from that hospice and enrolled her in another one. Shortly after she was admitted to the second hospice, my siblings and I observed that Mom seemed unresponsive or almost in a stupor and unable to talk when we visited. Concerned, we demanded to know what medications had been given to her. We found out that, without telling us, the hospice staff had significantly increased her dosages of morphine and Ativan to “keep her comfortable.” It was not surprising that she could no longer converse with anyone. It’s notable that my mom had not expressed to anyone that she was experiencing pain.

As a result of our discussions with the staff, the hospice promised to notify us before making any medication changes. Once they stopped giving Mom these strong dosages of powerful drugs, she was again able to converse with her family. A few weeks later, while out-of-state on a business trip, I received word that my mom’s death was imminent. I rushed home and was blessed to be holding her hand when she passed away.
These two events – the glorification of Brittany Maynard’s assisted suicide and Mom’s experience with hospice care – greatly affected me. As a result, I became aware of how extreme our culture’s devaluation of human lives has become. And when I think about the hospice care that my mom received, I also wonder about others who are in similar situations and have no one to advocate for them.

I am glad we were there and able to speak up for my mom and am more determined than ever to fight to protect those whose lives are in danger – whether they are pre-born babies or medically vulnerable due to illness, disability, or age. Therefore, I enthusiastically embrace my new role as Executive Director of HALO. 

Popular Articles