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Death With Dignity Act

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Beth McCartt

on 9 May 2011

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Transcript of Death With Dignity Act

Death with Dignity Act Do you know what the Death with Dignity Act is ? Definition: The Death with Dignity Act allows terminally-ill patients to end their lives through the voluntary self-administration of lethal medications, expressly prescribed by a physician for that purpose. Thesis: Should terminally- ill patients in Oregon have the choice to end thier lives with Physician Assisted Suicide. Background Info! In order to qualify for physician-assisted suicide,
A person must be an Oregon resident
Must be 18 years of age
Must have decision‑making capacity
Must be suffering from a terminal disease that will lead to death within six months A patient must make one written and two oral requests for medication to end his or her life, the written one “substantially in the form” provided in the Act, signed, dated, witnessed by two persons in the presence of the patient who attest that the patient is “capable, acting voluntarily, and not being coerced to sign the request.” Also there are stringent qualifications as to who may act as a witness. The patient’s decision must be an “informed” one. The attending physician is thus obligated to provide the patient with information about the diagnosis, prognosis, potential risks, and probable consequences of taking the medication to be prescribed, and alternatives, “including but not limited to, comfort care, hospice care and pain control.” Another physician must confirm the diagnosis, the patient’s decisionmaking capacity, and voluntariness of the patient’s decision. The patient has the right to rescind the request for medication to end his or her life at any time.
Having met the above requirements, the patient is entitled to a prescription for medication to end life. The Act does not “authorize a physician or any other person to end a patient’s life by lethal injection, mercy killing or active euthanasia.” Only 460 people have hastened their deaths with Oregon's Death with Dignity Act in the last 12 years. This is a very small number when you consider over 360,000 people passed away in Oregon during the same time period. In 2009, 95 doses of lethal medications were perscribed to terminally-ill Oregon patients. Of those 95 people:
53 administered the medications
30 died of thier illness
12 were still alive

It is estimated that there are 19.3 Death with Dignity Act (DWDA) deaths/ 10,000 total. Oregon's first Physician Assisted Suicide Case Mrs. A was said to be in her mid eighties with metastatic breast cancer and in a hospice program. Mrs. A said that she was looking foward to it so that she could be relieved of all her stress. The physician stated that Mrs. A's life was going down hill rapidly, also that "quality of her life was disappearing." The physician prescribed her a mixture of 9 grams of barbiturates and syrup, followed by a glass of brandy. Mrs. A died thirty minutes later. Sources
(Reflections on Oregon's First Case) http://www.nightingalealliance.org/pdf/Oregons_First_Case.pdf

(Oregon's Death with Dignity Law) http://www.leg.state.vt.us/reports/05death/death_with_dignity_report.htm
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