Therapeutic Death: A Look at Oregon's Law Legalizing Physician-Assisted Suicide
Kathy L. Cerminara
Nova Southeastern University - Shepard Broad College of Law
Alina M. Perez
Nova Southeastern University - Masters of Public Health Program
Psychology, Public Policy & Law, Vol. 6, p. 503, 2000
Oregon voters approved the first American statute authorizing physician-assisted suicide in 1994. Since then, the state has released two annual reports, revealing that a total of 43 patients have died after ingesting lethal medications pursuant to the Oregon Death Dignity Act since its implementation. This article examines the positive and negative psychological effects of the Act on patients. In general, it appears that, based on psychological theory and the available data, laws such as Oregon's benefit patients psychologically. Undoubtedly, however, there exist important possible anti-therapeutic effects on patients. It is hoped that discussion of therapeutic and anti-therapeutic consequences of laws authorizing physician-assisted suicide will stimulate future research by social scientists in this area.
Date posted: August 28, 2000