Washington State Receives First Two Prescriptions for Drugs for Assisted Suicides

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 27, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Washington State Receives First Two Prescriptions for Drugs for Assisted Suicides

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 27
, 2009

Olympia, WA (LifeNews.com) — Officials in Washington have received the first two requests under the state’s new assisted suicide law for a prescription for deadly drugs to kill patients. In November 2008, residents of Washington voted 58 percent to 42 percent for Initiative 1000 to make it the second after Oregon to legalize the practice.

Health Department spokesman Tim Church told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that he had no details about the patients, but confirmed that two people have requested lethal cocktails from their physician.

Church indicated pharmacists have already dispensed the drugs in both cases and, if they take them, the patients would become the first in the state to use the assisted suicide law to kill themselves.

As is the case in Oregon, Church confirmed that the prescription of the lethal drugs doesn’t mean patients will use them.

"Someone can certainly receive a prescription and not use it. We have received no forms saying anyone has died as a result of this law," Church said.

Although two prescriptions have been submitted, Church told the newspaper the state has received forms for a total of at least five patients who want help in taking their lives.

The two forms for the prescriptions were submitted by pharmacists and the state has received a third from a patient who has requested lethal drugs to "end my life in a humane and dignified manner." Two doctors have also filled out the required forms and they could include the names of additional patients.

The PI newspaper also interviewed Robb Miller, executive director of Compassion & Choices of Washington, the state’s pro-euthanasia group that supported the assisted suicide initiative.

Miller said the initial tally from the state health department was only "a snapshot" and that it "doesn’t give an accurate picture of how many people have started the process" of killing themselves.

Church said the state health department will put together an annual report about the number of people who request lethal drugs and the number of patients who kill themselves with the cocktails.

Opponents of assisted suicide have set up a new group called True Compassion Advocates, that will work to help people find alternatives including medical care, hospice, and pain relief.

"Are you, or is someone you know considering assisted suicide? If so, we hope you, or the one you’re concerned about, will reconsider. Supportive resources, excellent hospice and end of life care, community support, and suicide prevention assistance are available to you or to those you care about," the group’s web site states.

"If you are seriously ill or caring for a loved one, we offer you our heartfelt concern and support. We’ve put together some resources and information on aging with courage, end of life choices, caregiver resources, and suicide prevention," it adds.

Related web sites:
True Compassion Advocates – https://www.truecompassionadvocates.org

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