Doctor-Shopping For Assisted Suicide?

A British think tank reports that Oregon’s 1997 assisted-suicide law might have led to “doctor-shopping” for physicians willing to ignore safeguards meant to prevent healthy people from killing themselves. A report from Living and Dying Well, a group of prominent British medical and legal experts, claims that Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act is being abused—with the help of some physicians—by people who do not fulfill the criteria of being terminally ill, mentally competent and able to make a free choice. The report counters claims by assisted-suicide campaigners that the Oregon law is a model that should be adopted in the United Kingdom. The report said that when the Oregon law was enacted, about a third of all people who requested help in committing suicide were referred to psychiatrists, but by 2009 no one was being sent for counseling. The report concludes the drop-off could reflect “doctor-shopping,” as patients seek physicians more inclined to process an application for physician-assisted suicide without insisting on psychological screening for depression or a mental health problem.

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