Caring for the Dying

September 5, 1997 • Volume 7, Issue 33
Would better palliative care reduce support for assisted suicide?
By Richard L. Worsnop

Introduction

A terminally ill patient receives care from a volunteer at a hospice. (Photo Credit: National Association for Home Care)
A terminally ill patient receives care from a volunteer at a hospice. (Photo Credit: National Association for Home Care)

Oregon is the only state where physician-assisted suicide is legal. By many accounts, it is also a national leader in “palliative care,” as non-invasive medical treatment of the dying is often called. Both approaches to terminal illness will be debated in depth as Oregonians prepare to vote Nov. 4 on whether to repeal the “death with dignity” law they narrowly approved in 1994. Pro-repeal forces claim support for assisted suicide would evaporate if palliative care and effective pain control became more widely available. The law's supporters say they also endorse palliative care. At the same time, they contend that doctor-aided suicide should remain a legal option for the small minority of terminally ill people whose intractable pain does not respond to opioids such as morphine.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Right to Die
May 13, 2005  Right to Die
Sep. 05, 1997  Caring for the Dying
May 05, 1995  Assisted Suicide Controversy
Feb. 21, 1992  Assisted Suicide
Sep. 28, 1990  Right to Die: Medical, Legal & Moral Issues
Feb. 24, 1984  Medical Ethics in Life and Death
Jun. 21, 1972  Medical Ethics
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Medical Profession and Personnel
Medical Research and Advocacy
Right to Die