While America was celebrating, as one friend put it, “Obamania” and the proposition to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman in three states, I have heard no one (except one) talk about Initiative 1000, or the measure to legalize physician-assisted suicide that was passed 59% to 41% in Washington State. Also called the “Death with Dignity Act”, or the “Right to Die Act” allows the patient to self-administer “life-ending medication” with the physician’s assistance. By using the term “self-administer”, the physician is thus not liable, so he or she in essence cannot be sued. But, as the measure reads:

Nothing in this chapter authorizes a physician or any other person to end a patient’s life by lethal injection, mercy killing, or active euthanasia. Actions taken in accordance with this chapter do not, for any purpose, constitute suicide, assisted suicide, mercy killing, or homicide, under the law. State reports shall not refer to practice under this chapter as “suicide” or “assisted suicide.” Consistent with sections 1 (7), (11), and (12), 2(1), 4(1)(k), 6, 7, 9, 12 (1) and (2), 16 (1) and (2), 17, 19(1) (a) and (d), and 20(2) of this act, state reports shall refer to practice under this chapter as obtaining and self-administering life-ending medication.

So the assistance in a patient’s self-administration of life-ending medication is not considered suicide or assisted suicide. Instead it should be considered as care:

Nothing contained in this chapter shall be interpreted to lower the applicable standard of care for the attending physician, consulting physician, psychiatrist or psychologist, or other health care provider participating under this chapter.

You can read the entire measure here.

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