Physician-assisted suicide gaining momentum across the US

Legal news for attorneys who handle physician-assisted suicide cases. Thirty-six people have died in the past year in Oregon due to physician-assisted suicide.

Physician-assisted suicides by lethal doses of medication have killed 36 people in Washington.

Seattle, WA—Physician-assisted suicide is gaining momentum in several states across the county, which has already been legalized in states like Washington and Oregon. A new report states that at least 36 terminally ill people in Washington passed away after taking a lethal dose of medication prescribed by doctors, as reported by the New York Times.

Washington State’s new physician-assisted suicide law, which was enacted only a year ago, has allowed physicians to write prescriptions for 63 people for lethal medication, even though not all patients actually took the medication and later died from other causes. Washington was the second state, after Oregon that enacted its law in 1998, to legalize this type of suicide, which only allows the mentally competent, terminally ill adults to make the conscious decision to obtain a prescription for the life-ending medication. Last year 59 people died in Oregon from the assisted suicide; a total of 95 prescriptions were filled during that time, according to the Oregon Public Health Division. Since the law has become active, a total 460 patients have died.

Several other states are now open to the idea of enacting such suicide-type laws. In Montana, a state court ruled in December that it was not illegal for physicians to prescribe lethal medication to terminally ill patients who were in certain circumstances. In Connecticut, a lawsuit was filed to clarify if Connecticut’s laws allow doctors to also prescribe the lethal doses of medication for suffering patients who are terminally ill. Massachusetts’ lawmakers are also considering a similar physician-assisted suicide law.

According to Washington’s report, patients who opted for physician-assisted suicide cited that a loss of autonomy, and a fear of loosing dignity and those who no longer enjoy life, as reasons for obtaining the medication. Most patients who took the lethal medication passes away within 90-minutes of taking the medication. One person reportedly lived for 28 hours after taking the medication, while two others woke up after taking it, and then later died.

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for lawyers who handle physician-assisted suicide cases.