Two states, Oregon and Washington, have legalized physician-assisted suicide through voter-approved ballot initiatives. Massachusetts will become the third if voters approve the so-called Death With Dignity ballot question. The measure would let terminally ill patients with six months or less to live get a lethal prescription. The outcome of that vote could change the landscape for legalized suicide nationwide.
When Dr. Marcia Angell was editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine back in the 1990s, she startled many of her colleagues by arguing that dying patients should have a legal right to kill themselves. She took that stance partly because of what her father did when he was in severe pain from prostate cancer.
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