Washington state is now the second state in the nation to allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients, as voters approved the Death with Dignity Act. The proposal called Initiative 1,000 passed with 59% of voters supporting and 41% opposed.
The ballot measure, modeled after an Oregon law, allows patients who are legal residents of Washington state and have a diagnosis of six months or less to live to obtain and self-administer lethal medication to end their own lives.
Two physicians must diagnose the patient and determine the patient is competent. The measure also requires a waiting period and physician verification of an informed patient decision. Physicians who prescribe the medication cannot be prosecuted for their good-faith actions and healthcare facilities, including hospitals, can decline to participate. The American Medical Association and Catholic Health Association opposed the measure. -- by Rebecca Vesely