According to a survey done in 1999, 54% of Oregon's psychiatrists and 75% of the state's psychologists supported physician-assisted suicide, whereas between 20% and 33% of all health care professionals opposed it. The debate continues, as the federal government is trying to take away prescribing privileges for physicians who prescribe life-ending medications.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Putting Kevorkian on trial is not the same as developing a rational health care policy for those who are terminally ill. Kevorkian needs to be checked, but too much significance should not be given to his case. Our concern with the care for those who are seriously or terminally ill is too important to relegate to the trial of someone who is so narrowly fixed on being the instrument of his own death or that of others.
Is it appropriate for physicians to accept assisted-death requests at face value, or should they be interpreted as clinical indications of suffering? Should physicians act on patient requests to die, or should they address patient needs through other measures? Such are the difficult questions facing most physicians today.