Commentary: A Victory for Patients
November 01, 1997
In the spring of 1997, legalization of physician-assisted suicide seemed inevitable. In the space of a month, two appellate courts had declared a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, overturning long-standing state laws in New York and Washington that prohibited the practice. Many observers expected the U.S. Supreme Court to follow suit. Earlier, Oregon had become the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Although that decision was still being contested in the courts, had the Supreme Court recognized and accepted a constitutional right to physician-assisted suicide, Oregon was ready to become the first state in which it was practiced.