Washington may follow Oregon's lead on death with dignity

On Wednesday, activists filed a death-with-dignity ballot measure in Washington modeled on Oregon's law.

From the Oregonian:

Using Oregon's Death With Dignity Act as the model, a coalition led by former Gov. Booth Gardner launched a campaign Wednesday to allow Washington doctors to prescribe a lethal drug overdose to a terminally ill patient on request. ...

Oregon is the only state where it is legal for a doctor to prescribe a drug overdose that, if used as directed, will end the patient's life. At least 292 terminally ill Oregonians have ended their lives under the law since it took effect 10 years ago. That accounts for slightly more than 1 in 1,000 deaths in the state -- fewer than either backers or opponents first expected. Updated figures covering 2007 are due out in March.

The issue remains one of the most passionately argued in U.S. medicine and politics. Proponents frame the debate in terms of personal choice, death with dignity and freedom from pain. Opponents say assisted suicide violates the Hippocratic tradition of "first, do no harm" and undermines the doctor-patient relationship by turning physicians from healers into accomplices of death.

The Washington initiative, like Oregon's law, will face strong opposition from right-to-life groups, the Roman Catholic Church, the American Medical Association and the Bush administration.

Read the rest. Visit the campaign site for the Washington Death with Dignity campaign. Discuss.

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