Physician assisted suicide (PAS)
Activity in Oregon
|"The voters of Oregon acted with great humanity when they decided
to allow terminally ill people to determine when they have suffered
enough." New York Times 1
|"How can there be 'death with dignity' when the patient must
humbly petition the doctors, then meekly wait for a unanimous ruling?"
Sheldon Richman, senior fellow at The Future of Freedom Foundation.
|"The longer you keep an act in place, the more people become
desensitized to it, and it no longer causes the appropriate righteous
indignation." William Toffler, MD, national director of
Physicians for Compassionate Care.
The Death With
Dignity law went into effect in Oregon in 1997. It allows some
terminally-ill patients to request assistance in committing suicide. By the
end of 2004, 208 individuals had ended their life with the help of lethal
prescriptions. The number appeared to be leveling-off at about 40
assisted suicides per year. However, in 2008, the number increased to 60, and dropped to 59 the next year. Physician assisted suicide under the act
accounts for only one-seventh of one percent of all deaths in the state.
Individuals who commit suicide via prescription are overwhelmingly motivated
by a loss in quality of life:
|92% reported a decreasing ability to participate in activities that made
|87% reported loss of autonomy, and |
|78% reported loss of dignity.|
In 2006-JAN, after years of litigation, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the
Oregon program is constitutional and legal under current federal laws. It may continue in spite of Federal
Government efforts to close it down. However, the Court left the door open for future
federal laws that might outlaw the practice.
According to Brad Knickerbocker of the Christian Science Monitor --
reporting at the start of 2010:
"Over the years, there have been no reported violations under the law – no
evidence that individuals have been pressured by doctors or family members. And
Oregon has become noted for the quality of end-of-life care, especially the use
of hospices." 3
Topics covered in this section:
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Sheldon Richman, "The fraud of physician assisted suicide,"
Baltimore Chronicle, 2004-JUN-06, at:
- Andis Robeznieks, "Assisted-suicide numbers up in Oregon,"
AmedNews, 2004-APR-5, at:
- Brad Knickerbocker, "Montana becomes third state to legalize
physician-assisted suicide," Christian Science Monitor, 2010-JAN-02, at:
Copyright © 1997 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on
Last updated 2010-JUL-03
Author: Bruce A Robinson