Assisted Suicide
The United States is conducting a national experiment with assisted suicide. At least one state has legalized it—Oregon [Egan, T. In Oregon, Opening a New Front in the World of Medicine. New York Times. November 6, 1997;A26.]albeit with substantial restrictions, and several others have specifically banned it. Some ethicists and law professors favor a right to assisted suicide as an extension of a patient’s right to control their own medical care. [Baron, CH. Pleading for physician-assisted suicide in the courts, W N Eng Law Rev. 1997;19:371.] Many others oppose it on philosophical grounds in the individual case and as a dangerous slippery slope issue for society. [Kamisar, Y. The “right to die”: on drawing (and erasing) lines. Duquesne Law Rev. 1996;35:481; Arras, J. Physician-assisted suicide: a tragic view. J Contemp Health Law Policy. 1997;361. Brody, H. Compassion in Dying v. Washington: promoting dangerous myths in terminal care. BioLaw. July–Aug 1996; (special section): S-154; Burt, R. Constitutionalizing physician-assisted suicide: will lightning strike thrice? Duquesne Law Rev. 1996;35:159; Capron, AM. Liberty, equality, death! Hastings Cent Rep. May/June 1996;23.] Given the pressures to cut costs in medical care, and the substantial savings that an early suicide of a patient with a serious illness can bring, it is inevitable that physicians will be pressured to recommend suicide, both by family members and by insurers.