Oregon Releases 2005 Assisted Suicide Data
The number of terminally ill Oregon residents who sought physician-assisted suicide remained about the same between 2004 and 2005, according to a report released on Thursday by the state Department of Human Services, the AP/Seattle Times reports. According to the report, the first issued since the U.S. Supreme Court in January upheld the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, 38 state residents sought assisted suicide in 2005, compared with 37 in 2004 (McCall, AP/Seattle Times, 3/10).
The law, which took effect in 1997, allows physicians to prescribe, but not administer, a lethal dose of prescription drugs to a terminally ill patient after two physicians agree that the patient has less than six months to live, has decided to die voluntarily and can make health care decisions. (California Healthline, 1/18).
Oregon residents who sought assisted suicide cited as reasons the loss of control over their bodies, decreased ability to participate in certain activities and the loss of dignity, according to the report. The report also finds that a majority of Oregon residents who sought assisted suicide had cancer and that most of the remainder had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or AIDS.
In addition, the report finds that the median age of Oregon residents who sought assisted suicide was 70 (AP/Seattle Times, 3/10).