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Death with Dignity

“I don’t want to depend on others to feed me, bathe me or dress me. I don’t want to lose my independence. I don’t want to not be able to do the things I love to do. I don’t want my cancer pain to get so bad I am doped up all the time. I don’t want to lose control of my bladder and have to wear a diaper, I want to die before it gets to that point.”

When I hear such statements, and if I feel the hospice patient is able to receive the information, I tell them about Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. The Act provides Oregonians who have a prognosis of six months or less the option to end their life with the help of two certifying physicians. The patient must be an Oregon resident, be of sound mind, and make two oral requests and one written request within a 15 day waiting period.

Here in Oregon, the Act allows the terminal patient to choose the time and place of their death, with family and friends, or alone. This Act is intended to provide Oregonians an option to die with dignity according to their own values and beliefs.

The Act does not permit lethal injection; the patient must be able to ingest the lethal medication by swallowing. Not all who have obtained the prescription take the medication. I’ve heard patients say they appreciate having the choice. In 2011, 114 prescriptions were written in Oregon and 71 took the medication and died with dignity when and where they wanted.

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