Choice at the End of Life: Lessons from Oregon

June 17, 2008

ACS is pleased to distribute an issue brief by Kathryn L. Tucker, Director of Legal Affairs, Compassion & Choices, and Affiliate Professor of Law, Lewis and Clark School of Law, entitled Choice at the End of Life: Lessons from Oregon. In this issue brief, Tucker describes Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, the only law in the nation that legalizes assistance in dying for terminally ill patients, and she evaluates Oregon’s experience under the law for the decade it has been in effect. Tucker explains that the Oregon law empowers terminally ill, mentally competent adult Oregonians to control the timing and manner of death, subject to careful procedures, by obtaining from the attending physician a prescription for medication that will hasten death. It is particularly timely to draw lessons from Oregon’s experience, she contends, because a wealth of information is now available about the law’s implementation and because a measure virtually identical to Oregon’s law is slated to appear on the ballot this November in Washington State. The author’s conclusion, based on her review and analysis of the Oregon data, is that it has harmed no one and has benefited both the relatively few patients in extremis who make use of it and a great many more who draw comfort from knowing this option is available. She urges citizens of other states across the country to heed the lessons of Oregon and show the same compassion Oregon has shown to terminally ill, competent patients who wish to end their suffering.

Read the full Issue Brief here: Kathryn_L._Tucker_Issue_Brief

By Kathryn L. Tucker