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July 26, 1995

Physician-Assisted Suicide

Author Affiliations

VA Medical Center Phoenix, Ariz

JAMA. 1995;274(4):302. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530040028027

To the Editor.  —I read with interest the analysis by Mr Cotton regarding the referendum on physician-assisted suicide that recently passed in Oregon but is now pending legal disposition in the courts. The commentary was well done and equitable; however, I was dismayed at the apparent vernacular attributed to Dr Goodwin and other physicians supportive of the referendum. Dr Goodwin ostensibly stated, "Dying patients are given larger and larger doses of morphine. We talk about the 'double effect,' and know jolly well we are sedating them into oblivion, providing pain relief but also providing permanent relief, and we don't tell them."1 Such a statement does a disservice to the many able and competent hospice and palliative care professionals caring for dying patients. And what this diatribe also demonstrates is that palliative care must assume importance as a respected academic discipline, similar to what has transpired in England and Canada.

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