IN 1994, Oregon became the first state in the nation to pass a law allowing physician-assisted suicide. Legal challenges and a ballot measure aimed at rescinding the law led to delays in implementation, but in November 1997, all barriers were put aside and Oregon's Death With Dignity Act became fully operative.1 The law not only details strict guidelines for use of its provisions, but also includes a mandate that the Oregon Health Division collect data on persons who receive lethal medication to end their lives.2 On February 18, 1999, the Oregon Health Division issued its official report containing data on the number and characteristics of Oregonians who received medication to end their lives between November 1997 and December 19983; it is this report that provides the data for my commentary.
Wineberg H. Oregon's Death With Dignity ActFourteen Months and Counting. Arch Intern Med. 2000;160(1):21-23. doi:10.1001/archinte.160.1.21