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August 11, 1997

Oregon's Physician-Assisted Suicide LawAn Alternative Positive Viewpoint

Arch Intern Med. 1997;157(15):1642-1644. doi:10.1001/archinte.1997.00440360038003

IN A commentary on Oregon's physician-assisted suicide law Emanuel and Daniels1 raise many of their concerns about the Oregon Death With Dignity Act, and see its safeguards as inadequate. Much of the information they provide can be perceived differently. I refer to the provisions of the Act in proposing different interpretations, and I reach different conclusions about the adequacy of its safeguards.

BACKGROUND TO OREGON DEATH WITH DIGNITY ACT  The Act is a response to a growing awareness on the part of the public and of the medical profession that alternatives to institutionalized dying are needed for terminally ill competent patients, and that lawful consideration of physician-assisted suicide (aid in dying) is both ethical and appropriate. Public opinion polls have shown progressively increasing public support of physician-assisted suicide.2 In several recent articles3-5 surveys of physicians have demonstrated that many physicians believe that physician-assisted suicide is ethical and