The State of Washington became the second state in the U.S. to legalize physician-assisted suicide. Initiative 1000
passed 58-42, according to the Seattle Post-Intellgencer
. The measure looks virtually identical to the Oregon Death With Dignity Act
, which was enacted in 1997. The law becomes effective in 120 days after the Nov. 4 election: March 4.
It's a matter of time before PAS is legal in a majority of states: 20 years, probably sooner. This is a law that appeals to liberals and libertarian-minded conservatives. The Catholic church and reliably right-to-life groups will always be against it, but as the tidal wave of boomers crashes into their sixties and seventies, the call for legalization will become more incessant, and the Oregon (and soon the Washington) experience will provide the counterargument against those who (like me) worry about abusive practices and a decrease in the commitment to provide effective palliative care at the end of life. The record in Oregon puts the lie to both of those concerns.