I'm interested to hear what hospice nurses' opinions are about the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.
This piece of legislation was passed in 1997, and essentially allows a terminally ill patient to self-administer medications prescribed by a physician in order to end their life. Obviously, the patient has to seek out this service, it is not done solely on the whim of the prescribing physician.
Last year 85 patients utilized this option to end their own suffering. There are strict criteria a patient must meet in order to be eligible for this.
More information and a general overview is available on the state of Oregon's website here:
As for myself?
I absolutely support it. I have seen it, and I KNOW that I would not want to live in such a state. I KNOW that several of my family members and friends have expressed the same desire, should they end up in a similar situation. I don't feel like anyone who is not suffering should be able to tell someone who is that they don't have the right to make this choice.
That said, I don't feel like this should be a patient's first, or even second or third alternative. The criterion for inclusion exist for a reason, and if followed I see no reason why this should not exist in every state. Nobody is going to make you, the terminally ill patient, participate if you don't want to. No one is going to make a physician prescribe these medications if he or she feels uncomfortable doing so. But for those patients who do elect to take this route, and find a physician willing to cooperate, it could save them a lot of needless suffering.
How do you feel?