Physicians' Legislative Privileges to Assist Life or Death
Many patients would welcome the option of ending intense and hopeless suffering with the help of a skilled physician who can insure a professional approach.
New York Times editorial 1
Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that legislatures can either prohibit or legalize physician-assisted suicide, the question is how they should decide. Because Oregon passed a measure in 1997 again authorizing a form of physician-assisted death, 2 the state may become the first legal "laboratory" for determining whether the hopes of the proponents or the fears of the opponents will become a reality. Proponents might look at the 60 percent majority vote in favor of retaining the 1994 initiative as evidence that many other states will follow the Oregon Trail. Opponents might attempt to file some type of lawsuit to block any implementation of the 1994 Oregon Death With Dignity Act, as they did when the initiative was first approved. 3 If, however, we want to take seriously Chief Justice Rehnquist's invitation in Glucksberg to have a true debate about the role of physicians in our dying, 4 there are some institutional lessons for the legislative debate we should derive from the Oregon experience.
First and foremost, even though the Oregon voters said "yes" to