Oregon's Guidelines for Physician-Assisted Suicide: A Legal and Ethical Analysis
38 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2000 Last revised: 26 Oct 2009
Date Written: 2000
Oregon's Death With Dignity Act was first passed by a ballot initiative in 1994, but numerous judicial challenges delayed implementation of the Act. In November of 1997, following the United States Supreme Court decisions in Vacco v. Quill and Washington v. Glucksberg, which left the states' power to regulate physician-assisted suicide undisturbed, the Oregon voters upheld their law. Oregon remains the only state in the nation to authorize physician-assisted suicide. The Task Force to Improve the Care of Terminally Ill Oregonians published a Guidebook for health care providers on the Oregon Act, and the New England Journal of Medicine recently issued a special report on the first year's experience under the Act. This paper analyzes the legal context of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act, discusses the efficacy of the tenets in the Guidebook, and explores ethical issues underlying the guidelines, particularly those pertaining to the meaning of a patient's request for assisted suicide and processes supporting informed consent.
JEL Classification: K4, K2
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation