Voters pass end-of-life measure in Washington state

December 1, 2008

Washington state voters passed an initiative that allows doctors to prescribe lethal prescriptions to terminally ill patients who have six months or less to live.

Washington state voters passed an initiative that allows doctors to prescribe lethal prescriptions to terminally ill patients who have six months or less to live. Under Initiative 1000, patients must request the prescription from the physician and must self-administer the lethal medication. The measure also states that two physicians have to determine that the patient has an incurable disease that will cause death within six months. The physician must also recommend, but not require, the patient to notify next of kin.

The initiative is similar to Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, which took eff ect in 1998. I-1000 marks the second time Washington voters decided an end-of-life measure. In 1991 residents rejected Initiative 119, which would have allowed doctors to write and administer lethal prescriptions, unlike I-1000 which only permits the prescription. Where do you stand on this issue? See page 2 and visit www.cancernetwork.com to register your vote to the question, “Do you agree with physician-assisted suicide?”