Thursday, May 07, 2009

In rural Washington state, law allows assisted suicide, but most doctors don't

This is a difficult article to read. Kudos to the LA Times for publishing it.


In rural Washington state, law allows assisted suicide, but most doctors don't
Terminally ill patients who want to utilize a new law to end their agony often find that physicians, citing moral objections, refuse to take part.

By Kim Murphy

May 7, 2009

Reporting from Kennewick, Wash. — Stephen Wallace had watched his wife die of cancer 22 years ago, using up the morphine as fast as they could put it into her and begging for more. NoNo, he said then. I won't let this happen to me.

So when he was diagnosed with an advanced case of pancreatic cancer March 8, and given a few days to a few weeks to live, Wallace hoped to go quickly. He told his doctor and family that he wanted to take advantage of Washington state's new law allowing physicians to prescribe a fatal dose of barbiturates to terminal patients. His five children agreed, but his doctor balked, citing moral reservations.

The family appealed to the hospital, got nowhere, and called two other hospitals in towns nearby. None of the doctors in the area was willing to give Wallace, 76, the pills for his deadly sleep.

Cancer of the pancreas has a cruel reputation, delivering what some say is the most intense pain humans can imagine. It killed Wallace on April 8.


Read the rest of the article here.

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