death with dignity.

December 1, 2010

Over Thanksgiving, my family had a weirdly morbid conversation. My mom’s brother apparently has a concern that if you are listed as an organ donor on your driver’s license, this may have a small chance of negatively impacting your care in a hospital. In discussing how I think that concern is ridiculous, the topic of physician assisted suicide (and the fact that it’s illegal) came up. And then, I learned about Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.

The Death with Dignity Act basically allows physicians to prescribe lethal medications for a patient to use to end his life. A couple important things to note for clarification purposes. The patient is the one administering the drug, not the physician. In order to get a prescription for a lethal medication, a patient must be fully capable of making all his health-care decisions and must have a terminal illness that gives them 6 months to live. The patient must make 2 oral requests (15 days apart – which is already 1 month of the 6 you have left to live) and a written request. And if it’s suspected the patient is suffering from a psychological disorder (i.e. depression), then the doctor can ask for a psych evaluation. So essentially, it’s physician assisted suicide in very very select situations. Except the Act specifically says it is not suicide, so insurance benefits aren’t negatively impacted.

I’m surprised I didn’t know about this Act earlier. It’s actually been around for over ten years – although only just recently it was upheld by the Supreme Court. And I hope eventually other states adopt similar policies.


  1. Whenever the subject of dying with dignity comes up, I’m always reminded of a line from the Pilot episode of House, M.D.

    “Our bodies break down, sometimes when we’re 90, sometimes before we’re even born, but it always happens and there’s never any dignity in it. I don’t care if you can walk, see, wipe your own ass. It’s always ugly. Always. You can live with dignity, we can’t die with it.”

    Tangent aside, I’m pro this being legal.

  2. Also: my dad has said stuff like that about organ donation. Not sure if he was joking or not, but I don’t think he’s an organ donor.

    I’m ok with them donating my organs. It’s weird and kind of gross to think about, but so long as my organs aren’t going to Steve Jobs, I’m ok with helping to save another life.

  3. Agree

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