In this chapter we will discuss some of the highlights of and some of the people involved in the campaign to legalize physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia in the United States. The movement for physician-assisted suicide has been very visible and its advocates have been very visible. In contrast, the movement for euthanasia has been behind the scenes, and its advocates have been behind the scenes.
The campaign to legalize physician-assisted suicide has achieved spectacular publicity. Although physician-assisted suicide has not been legalized anywhere in the United States except Oregon, almost everyone has been exposed to the idea. Many members of the public who have not yet thoroughly investigated the idea are favorably inclined toward it.
The status of the struggle to legalize physician-assisted suicide is as follows. In the United States, physician-assisted suicide is allowed only in Oregon, where it was legalized in 1994. Implementation was delayed by court battles until 1997. On November 6, 2001, the practice of physician-assisted suicide in Oregon was challenged when Attorney General Ashcroft sent a “memo to the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration” indicating that “prescribing, dispensing, or administering’ federally controlled substances” to assist suicide was a violation of the Controlled Substances Act (Meyer & Murphy, 2001, p. A10). On April 17, 2002, however, Judge Robert Jones ruled that Ashcroft lacked the authority to make this determination. Therefore, physician-assisted suicide is still legal in Oregon (Liptak, 2002, p. A16). This decision will likely be appealed. Readers