Assisted Suicide Laws And The United States

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Assisted suicide laws, otherwise known as Death with Dignity and right to die laws, are both controversial and largely discussed in state legislatures across the United States. These laws permit patients with a terminal illness to either commit or have assistance in committing suicide through a medical process. Due to the influence of changing public opinion, the increase in the passage of state laws, and the advocacy of prominent public figures, support for assisted suicide laws has increased in the United States since Oregon set the precedent with the passage of its state law in 1997. Most of the debate in the United States about assisted suicide laws stems from a split between conservative, liberal, prolife, and prochoice advocates (Behuniak 17). Current assisted suicide laws in the United States, according to the National Death with Dignity National Center, “allow mentally competent, terminally-ill adult state residents to voluntarily request and receive a prescription medication to hasten their death” (“Death with Dignity…”). Only three states currently have passed legislation which allows terminally ill patients to make the choice to end their life: Oregon, Washington, and Vermont. Of these three states, Oregon was the first to pass legislation with its 1997 Death with Dignity Act, thus setting the precedent and establishing a template for other states reviewing similar legislation (Sanburn). Advocates for assisted suicide laws believe that doctors have a
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