Oregon and Washington both have laws in place allowing suicide by lethal prescription, so-called physician-assisted suicide.  These laws are known as Death with Dignity. 


Oregon State published FAQs regarding the Oregon Death with Dignity law here.  These FAQs cover many questions,  Of note, for people not living in Oregon, you don't have to be a state resident to participate.  However, the patient must find an Oregon doctor who is willing to prescribe for them.


The Washington law is discussed here, with a link to FAQs as well.  You must be a Washington State resident to participate in WA. 


One nuance that I did not think of before was whether life insurance is voided by a patient's decision to commit suicide under this act.  Apparently, not in WA "The act states that “the sale, procurement, or issuance of any life, health, or accident insurance or annuity policy or the rate charged for any policy shall not be conditioned upon or affected by the making or rescinding of a request, by a person, for medication that the patient may self-administer to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner. A qualified patient’s act of ingesting medication to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner shall not have an effect upon a life, health, or accident insurance or annuity policy.”   I could not find that information for Oregon.


Additional information can be found in the Deathwithdignity.org website


Montana also has a Death with Dignity law.   The status of this law isn't clear to me.  It was court ordered.


Wikipedia discusses countries where there are similar laws.  I know someone whose mother died by this means in Holland.  Other countries include Switzerland, Belgium, Luxenburg.  Apparently it helps to be a little country in Northern Europe.   As a nit-picking aside, the illustration for the WIkipedia article is from a famous painting of the court-ordered suicide of Socrates.  That illustration is inappropriate, because Socrates was not terminally ill, and the poison was not prescribed by his doctor in an act of compassion.   Socrates was condemned to die, vs. entering exile, for the expression of his ideas against those of Athens' and corrupting the minds of the youth.  He chose death over exile.


The 'politically correct' language of the act depends on your views, pro or con.  If you agree with these acts, they are "Death with Dignity" and "Physician assisted death".  If you disagree with these acts, they use "Assisted Suicide" more.  The terms may continue to evolve, depending on what is more palatable to what group.  I've seen articles that conflated the concept with Euthanasia and "mercy killing". 


I've always wondered if some hospice patients may die a little sooner due to upping morphine dose, not necessarily with intent to end life, but with knowledge that life is ending a bit sooner due to the increased morphine.  Morphine is given for pain, but also for "air hunger" which is the sensation of being strangled when breathing is insufficient.  Morphine also slows breathing, so coulod occasionally make for an interesting combination of effects. Occasionally there will be a news article where someone admits to giving increased pain killer while knowing that the increased dose would end life.  A patient may do this intentionally as well, or family caregivers.  This would be a way to get around the illegality of assisted death, but the ethics and legality are questionable.


I think if I lived outside a state that allowed Death with Dignity, and had a late-stage terminal illness that met the terms of Oregon's act, and my life was miserable with pain and suffering, I might look into what it takes to go to Oregon to arrange for this for myself.  Hard to say, since that is not the current situation.



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Thanks for posting this information.

At the very least I find it comforting to know that there is a state in the U.S. where one could make such arrangements if needed.
You Don't Know Jack

Is the title of the 2010 movie about the life of Jack Kevorkian, released from jail in 2007. With Al Paccino and Susan Sarandon, by Barry Levinson. The movie could have been better, but it was still a very interesting look at the life of a very interesting man.

The problem is that once you're terminally ill, your ability to move to another state and to establish residence is severely limited.

My mom died last year after a long battle with alzheimers disease. During the last three days she was unconscious. When the nurse asked me if I wanted them to continue pain meds l told her not to miss a dose. If that helped ease mom out of this world it was for the best. She could have laid like that for days. It ended the third day. Peacefully it seemed.




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