Magazine article The Christian Century

Oregon Suicide Law Used by 27 People

Magazine article The Christian Century

Oregon Suicide Law Used by 27 People

Article excerpt

Twenty-seven terminally ill people used Oregon's two-year-old assisted suicide law to end their lives in 1999--11 more than the year before, according to a report released February 23 by the Oregon Health Division. Nearly two-thirds--17--were cancer patients, while the others suffered from AIDS, chronic lung disease or Lou Gehrig's disease.

All of those who used the state's Death with Dignity Act had health insurance, and their median age was 71. The study said physicians and relatives of the deceased reported that those who chose physician-assisted suicide did so not because of "poverty, lack of education or health insurance" or concerns about "poor care." Katrina Hedberg, coauthor of the report and a physician who leads the Oregon Health Division, told USA Today that "the families also volunteered that these were patients who were determined to have control over their lives and the way they died."

The report, based on information culled from family members of the deceased and doctors involved in the cases, was published February 24 in the New England Journal of Medicine, along with two other articles and an editorial about Oregon's assisted suicide law as well as euthanasia in the Netherlands. …

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