In 2017, the District of Columbia (DC) became the seventh jurisdiction in the United States to legalize medical aid in dying, which gives terminally ill patients the option of how and when they die. The new DC statute is nearly identical to earlier enacted medical aid in dying statutes in California, Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington State. Only Montana legalized medical aid in dying through a court decision, but subsequently, proponents of the act have failed in every attempt to legalize medical aid in dying through constitutional or statutory litigation.
[NOTE: Because of a problem with a component of the website, I am re-publishing this post today. A new post will appear in the in-boxes of subscribers Monday. I had hoped we would get some comments or feedback about this post.]
In Part 1, I discussed the state of death with dignity (DWD) laws in the United States and suggested eliminating the “six months to live” criterion. Here in Part 2, I discuss the Canadian example, other suggestions that may ease some restrictions of death with dignity acts (DWDAs), and add an important precaution that should help protect vulnerable people and provide better medical services.
Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act (DWDA), implemented in 1998, was a monumental step forward in pursuing the primary goal of permitting those suffering from illness or disease to hasten their own death. But its advocates realized that, out of political necessity, it was not a universally applicable law, covering everyone in need. And the DWDA did not assure that all people have excellent medical care to meet their needs, though Oregon did dramatically improve palliative care in the state, diminishing the need for many people to make use of the DWDA.