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The initiative that made Washington the second state to legalize physician-assisted suicide is the stuff of double-edged language and hard ethical choices.
"It is a fact of life. We need to live with it," Arline Hinckley of Compassion & Choices of Washington State, which supports the initiative, told a packed house Wednesday at Bellingham City Club. The advocate, the doctor, and the hospital administrator made variations of the same point: People in the prime of life need to think the unthinkable and talk about the inevitable. Nobody gets out of death.
"Have those discussions now while yo
Assisted suicide occurs when a person — typically someone suffering from an incurable illness or chronic intense pain — intentionally kills himself with the help of another individual.
For example, a doctor may prescribe drugs with the understanding that the patient plans to use them to overdose fatally. Or a doctor may insert an intravenous needle into the arm of a patient, who then pushes a switch to trigger a fatal injection.
Assisted suicide differs from euthanasia, in which someone other than the patient ends the patient's life as painlessly as possible.
Euthanasia may be active, such as when a doctor gives a lethal injection to a patient.
It can also be passive, in cases where a physician doesn't resuscitate a patient whose heart has stopped. Or it can happen when a doctor removes life-support equipment.
Both Canada and the United States have long outlawed assisted suicide, charging people who help others kill themselves with murder, manslaughter and other offences.
Many U.S. states introduced specific laws prohibiting assisted suicide in the 1990s after Dr. Jack Kevorkian and others pushed the debate into the public spotlight.
Kevorkian, a retired Michigan pathologist, loudly advocated a person's right to die and invented an instrument — dubbed the "suicide machine" — that lets patients inject themselves intravenously with a lethal amount of potassium chloride.
Only three places besides Oregon openly and legally authorize assisted suicide: the Netherlands, Belgium and Switzerland.
Originally posted by googolplex
They kill people all the time in hospitals now, someone is taking a little to long to die, a little extra morphine, done deal.