Franklin James Cook

Washington Voting on Assisted-Suicide Law

In Policy on November 1, 2008 at 11:12 pm

ORIGINAL REPORT — A report in the New York Times looks at a Washington state ballot initiative on assisted suicide that is up for a vote in Tuesday’s election. The proposed law, the Washington Death with Dignity Act, is modeled after the 11-year-old assisted-suicide law in Oregon.

Polls have shown that more Washington voters support the initiative than oppose it, but, like the Oregon measure, it is controversial and closely contested. Religious groups, along with some advocates for the disabled and some doctors, aggressively oppose it, raising questions about ethics and the way the Oregon law has been carried out.

If the law is adopted, Washington would be the only other state besides Oregon where assisted suicide would be legal.

Similar initiatives have failed in at least two states. In 1998, Michigan voters overwhelmingly rejected an assisted-suicide proposal … In 2000, voters in Maine narrowly defeated a better organized campaign for a measure modeled on the Oregon law. Voters in California had rejected a similar initiative before Oregon passed its measure, and Washington itself rejected such an initiative in 1991.

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