Assisted Suicide Gains

Assisted suicide is legal in only four states currently, but several other jurisdictions are considering legislation on the practice. A California bill resembles the Oregon law approved by voters there in 1994, but it has some significant differences. The California proposal does not include a conscience clause that allows doctors to refuse to participate in assisted suicide. The Oregon law also mandates referral for psychological counseling if either of two doctors examining the dying patient suspects the patient is mentally ill or suffers from impaired judgment. That stipulation is not included in the California proposal. In New York, where a bill patterned after Oregon’s assisted-suicide law has also been introduced, the Disability Rights Legal Center filed a suit on Feb. 4 to give New Yorkers the right to end their lives. Assisted suicide bills were also recently introduced in Maryland, Wyoming and Pennsylvania.

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