Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First report on WA Death with Dignity law

The Washington Department of Health last week released its report on the first year's experience with the state's new Death with Dignity law. Of the 63 people dispensed lethal medication between March and December 2009, 36 died after ingesting it. Another 7 died of other causes.

Some who opposed the law expressed concern that women may be disproportional users -- not necessarily out of their own deeply felt desire to die, but out of a sense of not wanting to burden their loved ones with their care. The stats reported by the DOH don't appear to bear this out: only 45% of the people who received medication under the law and died (either from the medication or otherwise) were women.

Local media have run a number of human-interest stories about folks' experience with the law, mainly in the vein of applauding its success or reporting the difficulties some people experienced in trying to use the law.

More information about Washington State's law is available here.

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