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December 27, 1995

Physician-Assisted Suicide

JAMA. 1995;274(24):1911-1912. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530240020027

To the Editor.  —The article by Ms Alpers and Dr Lo1 discussed the parameters of Oregon's Death With Dignity Act, which was passed by voters in November 1994. The communication thoughtfully presented the arguments about physician-assisted suicide, but was submitted prior to the decision by Judge Michael Hogan,2 which found the act unconstitutional, a finding greeted with derision by legal scholars who found Hogan's reasoning faulty. Alpers and Lo deserve much credit for avoiding much of the emotionalism that has surfaced in discussions of the Oregon Act. Judge Hogan apparently does not believe that legal advance directives, giving the patient control over treatment decisions when death is near, could effectively answer the concerns of the right-to-life group that chose his court as one sympathetic to their cause.The need for action to educate physicians about advance directives3 and information about the inaccessibility of such documents4 should serve

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