Doctors do err on cancer patients' survival times, so how can they say when the time is ripe for assisted suicide. A study in the July 1 issue of Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society, finds that doctors are often wrong in predicting how long terminally ill cancer patients will live. After studying the accuracy of doctors' predictions regarding 233 patients with end-of-life cancer, the researchers found most doctors had a tendency to overestimate survival time. But among patients who lived longer than six months, 40% had been expected to die sooner. The results are relevant to decisions to refer patients to hospice care -- and also to decisions for assisted suicide, which in Oregon can only be made by patients who are expected by their doctors to die in six months [A. Vigano et al., "The Relative Accuracy of the Clinical Estimation of the Duration of Life for Patients with End of Life Cancer," 86 Cancer 170-6 (July 1, 1999); Reuters, 6/30].
Numerous US studies have established that the Americans most directly affected by the issue of physician-assisted suicide -- those who are frail, elderly and suffering from terminal illness -- are also more opposed to legalizing the practice than others are:
* A poll conducted for the Washington Post on March 22-26, 1996, found 50% support for legalizing physician-assisted suicide (Washington A18) Voters aged 35-44 supported legalization, 57% to 33%. But these figures reversed for voters aged 65 and older, who opposed legalization 54% to 38%. Majority opposition was also found among those with incomes under $15,000 (54%), and black Americans (70%).
* An August 1993 Roper poll funded by the Hemlock Society and other euth...
... middle of paper ...
... suicide: attitudes and experiences of oncology patients, oncologists, and the public." 347 The Lancet 1805 (June 29, 1996):1809
Humphry, Derek. "What's in a word?" Euthanasia Research & Guidance Organization 1993, Table 1-A.
Koenig, Dr. Harold et al.. "Attitudes of Elderly Patients and their Families Toward Physician-Assisted Suicide." 156 Archives of Internal Medicine 2240 (Oct. 28, 1996)
Lee v. Oregon, 891 F.Supp. 1429 (D. Or. 1995), vacated on other grounds, 107 F.3d 1382 (9th Cir. 1997), cert. denied, 118 S. Ct. 328 (1997).
"Poll Shows More Would Support Law Using Gentler Language," TimeLines (Jan.-Feb. 1994):9
Washington v. Glucksberg, 117 S. Ct. 2258, 2262 n. 7 (1997.
-- -- --. 117 S. Ct. at 2272, quoting United States v. Rutherford, 442 U.S. 544, 558. 1979.
Washington Post, April 4, 1996.
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