America is a champion of the freedom of choice. Citizens have the right to choose their religion, their political affiliation, and make personal decisions about nearly every facet of their daily lives. Despite all of these opportunities, one choice society commonly ignores is that of deciding how one’s life will end. Death seems like a highly unpredictable, uncontrollable occurrence, but for the past 17 years, citizens of Oregon have had one additional option not offered to most Americans in the deciding of their end-of-life treatment. Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act (DWDA), passed in 1994, allows qualified, terminally-ill Oregon patients to end their lives through the use of a doctor-prescribed, self-administered, lethal prescription
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Following the verbal demands, the individual must deliver a signed written request to the physician. Next, both the attending physician and a secondary physician are required to confirm that the patient is suffering a terminal illness and will likely die within six months. Both physicians must assure that the patient is in good mental health and can independently make and communicate health-related judgments. If either doctor feels the patient is suffering from depression, dementia, or any other mentally impairing condition, the patient is referred for a psychological examination and must be deemed mentally capable of making informed medical decisions by the examiner to move forward in the request process. The attending physician must inform the patient of all plausible alternatives such as hospice care and pain control, and patients are advised to inform their kin of their decision. At any time during the process, a patient may withdrawal his/her request (Office of Disease Prevention and Epidemiology, n.d.). Each of these safeguards work to ensure individuals have a reliable procedure with which they can control the manner of their death.
In order to make law as safe as possible, the life-ending decision passes through many varying channels of discretion. Assuming the patient does not need to rely on their appointed health care representative to make