Washington To Allow Assisted Suicide For Terminally Ill Patients

March 2, 2009

Washington (ChattahBox) – In a new controversial law, Washington is set to become the first US state to elect the ‘dignity death’ clause, where patients with less then six months to live can request lethal doses of medication from doctors.

While the law, which is set to take effect this Thursday, will allow doctors to give patents lethal medical doses to end their life, they are not required to participate. Because of the sensitive nature of the issue, pharmacists and doctors can refuse such methods, which constitute as assisted suicide.

But Dr. Tom Preston, who is a part of the Compassion and Choices group that lobbied for the law, says that over time more doctors may find themselves more comfortable with the notion.

“There are a lot of doctors, who in principle, would approve or don’t mind this, but for a lot of social or professional reasons, they don’t want to be involved. It will be a cultural shift,” he explained, citing religious and philosophical reasons as other motives behind refusal to participate.

In order for a patient to opt for a dignity death, they must have been diagnosed as terminal and confirmed to have less then six months left by two doctors, who are unrelated to each others practice. But not all physicians agree that this is enough of a safe guard against mistakes.

“There is no question in my mind that, if this is too easy of a task, people will die prematurely,” Dr. Linda Wrede-Seaman, a family practitioner in Washington, said.

With all the restrictions it turns out many hospitals will opt out as the law allows. Hospitals, doctors and other health care providers all have the right to opt out. Even at hospitals and hospice organizations that plan to help people end their lives, doctors, nurses and others are protected under federal law if they choose not to participate.


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