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Gonzales v. Oregon

  • By: Thomas E. Baker
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

The Oregon Death with Dignity Act, a ballot initiative that legalized physician assisted suicide, won approval of Oregon voters in 1994. The law permits physicians to prescribe a lethal dose of medication to a patient agreed by two doctors to be within six months of dying from an incurable condition.

The Oregon Legislative Assembly attempted to repeal the Act, and was defeated. The legal issues relating to physician-assisted suicide ultimately came before the Supreme Court and concerned the use of controlled substances. Oregon v. Ashcroft, and later Gonzales v. Oregon, resulted in intense political, ethical, and legal debate in the United States. Questions raised included whether the U.S. attorney general had the right to determine if physician-assisted suicide did not serve a legitimate legal purpose. Issues ...

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