Northwest Passages

Philosophy in the Contemporary World 16 (1):66-78 (2009)
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Abstract

Recent developments in Washington State and Montana have revived interest in death with dignity legislation. Oregon has a decade of experience with this professional experiment in the ethics of end-of-life care that is relevant for subsequent citizen referenda or legislation. This essay discusses the professional, regulatory and ethical issues displayed by the implementation of death with dignity in Oregon. My analysis generates conclusions that while the Oregon statute and its implementation has advanced patient choice andempowered professionals, it has failed a critical test of public transparency and has diffused philosophical meanings of the concept of "dignity."

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