On November 8, 1994, Oregon became the first government in the world to legalize physician-assisted suicide. The law was ruled unconstitutional due to unequal protection under the law. “What are the boundary lines, if any, to state sanctioned suicide?” the federal judge asked ( Lee v. Oregon). “Where in the Constitution do we find distinctions between the terminally ill with six months to live, the terminally ill with one year to live, paraplegics, the disabled, or any category of people who have their own reasons for not wanting to continue living?
In 1997 the Ninth Circuit Court overturned the decision on the grounds that the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to bring the case to court. In November of 1997, a ballot measure which would have repealed the law was rejected by Oregon voters. Thus, Oregon became the first jurisdiction in the world to begin experimenting with legalized assisted suicide.
Read more: Oregon’s Assisted Suicide Experience
Physicians for Compassionate Care is an association of physicians and other health professionals dedicated to preserving the traditional relation of the physician and patient as one in which the physician's primary task is to heal the patient and to minimize pain. The association affirms the health restoring role of the physician and works to educate the profession and the public to the dangers of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.
Physicians for Compassionate Care is a valuable resource for statistical and analytical information relating to physician assisted suicide and euthanasia.
Both the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians oppose assisted suicide. Click the links below to read their position statements.