Oregon residents can take great comfort in knowing that they have provided terminal patients a choice to avoid a painful, undignified death.Da Editorial: We Should Follow Oregon’s Lead on Death with Dignity. Terminally Ill Should be Able to Make a Choice, Mercury News, 11/05/2007.
Doctors, of all people, should know that for a small percentage – roughly 5 percent – of terminally ill patients, morphine and other drugs cannot control their pain, making the final weeks and months of their lives unbearable.
For these people, the knowledge that they can choose to end their life on their own terms is a great comfort.
It is clear that Oregon’s extensive safeguards are working. Fewer than 25 people each year have taken advantage of their right to die with dignity, which equates to one-seventh of 1 percent of all deaths in the state. The median age is 70, and the vast majority have had cancer, which can lead to excruciatingly painful deaths in some cases.