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December 27, 1995

Physician-Assisted Suicide-Reply

Author Affiliations

University of California, San Francisco

JAMA. 1995;274(24):1912. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530240020028

In Reply.  —As the letters from Drs Campbell, Hare, Nelson, Donovan, D'Olimpio, and MacDonald illustrate, physician-assisted suicide continues to divide the medical community and to excite strong passions on both sides of the debate. While we appreciate the efforts of Campbell and his colleagues to distinguish the activities authorized by the Oregon Death With Dignity Act from physician-assisted suicide, we think neither Campbell nor the state can have it both ways. The act allows a physician to provide a patient with a lethal prescription for the specific purpose of the patient's killing himself or herself. If that is not physician-assisted suicide, what is?The Oregon Death With Dignity Act cannot be ignored because, to use the words of D'Olimpio, it is "a fait accompli," an act accomplished. The fact that a majority of Oregon's voters approved physician-assisted suicide must be accepted as reality. In fact, part of the message from

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