Letter to the editor

The purpose of this letter is to further the general public’s awareness of a growing movement called the Death with Dignity Act. This law would allow mentally competent, terminally-ill adult patients to voluntarily request and receive a prescription lethal medication so they can pass away in a peaceful, humane manner in a place and time of their choosing.

In several states, terminally-ill patients are typically required to 1) receive medical treatment regardless of the weeks or months of prolonged pain and suffering, 2) regardless of the mental and financial strain on the family, 3) regardless of the medical cost to insurance companies and 4) eventual hospice care to terminate medicines, remove life support systems and/or initiate morphine injections.

In these situations, it has already been medically established that the quality of life for these individuals will not be restored. The Death with Dignity Act would enable an individual to voluntarily receive a prescription lethal medication, whenever they chose, so they can pass away in a peaceful, humane manner. This law will minimize the hardship living conditions listed in items 1-4.

The Death with Dignity Act has been legalized on a statewide basis independently with similar protocols to hospice care. Oregon was the first state to approve the law in 1994. Subsequent to the Oregon Death to Dignity Act, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Vermont and Washington approved similar laws based on the Oregon act. More than 20 additional states are considering the Death with Dignity Act this year in session.

Contact the Death with Dignity National Center on the internet at deathwithdignity.org or phone 503-228-4415 for additional information including the legislative status of the Death with Dignity act within your states of interest.