Oregon reports drop in doctor-aided suicide

Low numbers unlikely to defuse issue
Thirty-seven Oregonians died by doctor-assisted suicide last year, a slight decrease from 42 the year before, according to a state report. During the seven-year history of Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act, assisted suicide has accounted for 208 deaths—roughly one in 1,000 deaths in the state.

In 2004, 40 doctors wrote a total of 60 prescriptions for lethal doses of barbiturates. The prescription total fell from 68 the year before—the first decrease in prescriptions since doctor-assisted suicide became legal in Oregon.

The new numbers, released March 10 by the Oregon Department of Human Services, are unremarkable in light of previous annual reports, and are unlikely to defuse one of the most passionately debated issues in American medicine.


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