On Tuesday, March 24, an elderly Oregon woman, acting with the aid of a doctor, dosed
herself with potent chemicals and died. The woman had lived with breast cancer for
more than 20 years. By all accounts her final hours were private and peaceful, as she
became one of the first people in American history to end her life lawfully with the aid of a physician (Oregonian A1).
She was able to end her life peacefully due to controversial legislation passed in her state. The Death with Dignity Act was passed by the state of Oregon in 1994. It allows physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication so that a terminally ill patient can end his or her life. The requirements set forth by the state statute are as follows: “An adult who is capable, is a resident of Oregon, and has been determined by the attending physician and consulting physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, and who has voluntarily expressed his or her wish to die, may make a written request for medication for the purpose of ending his or her life in a humane and dignified manner” (Death with Dignity Act 569.32) Therefore, it is of great importance that the Death with Dignity Act remains law. It sets a president for the United States. If the act continues as enacted law then all other states can pass similar legislation that will end the suffering of terminally ill patients. All terminally ill patients should have this right. Moreover, the physician assisted suicide law stood up to its opposition.
This law took many years and withstood tremendous opposition in order to be passed. In October of 1997 The United States Supreme Court denied a hearing brought forth by opponents of the law. This allowed physician assisted suicide to go into effect. The State of Oregon has since won every opposing court case up to the federal level. Recently the former attorney general John Croft opposed the act in 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Ashcroft issued a directive that physicians could not prescribe federally controlled substances for life terminating purposes. Ashcroft based his argument on the regulation in the federal Controlled Substances Act that says drugs must be prescribed for a ligament medical purpose (23). Moreover, Ashcroft is just protesting for the conservatives that he is employed by and has no real constitutional evidence and to ...
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...de extend beyond one another, it is a perfect design for a flawless world but our world is exceedingly flawed. Although the law sets out to relieve is has the ability to hurt. If all doctors could be trusted, corporations did not demonstrate their greed, insurance companies had never acted in an inhumane way, and malpractice suits were not on the docket of every court it is unlikely that physician assisted suicide would ever be opposed. Our laws attempt to protect us from all these imperfections and when it comes to Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act the law fails to protect us. The consequences outweigh the resolution.
Ashcroft, John. The Federal Register, (2001):56607-56608.
Death with Dignity Act of 1994. Pub. 1995 c.3 § 2.01; 1999 c.423 § 2.
Humphrey, Derek. Dying With Dignity: Understanding Euthanasia. New York: Carol
Publishing Corp., 1992.
Jeffery, Alvin P. “A perfect suicide” The Oregonian 24 Mar. 1997:A1
Quill, Timothy. Death and Dignity: Making Choices and Taking Charge. New York:
Norton and Company Inc., 1993.
Sixth Annual Report. Oregon: Department of Human Services, 2004.
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