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Oregon’s 1994 Death with Dignity Law

The Most Revolutionary Act

How to Die in Oregon

Directed by Peter D Richardson (2011)

Film Review

On September 19, the End of Life Choice Act referendum will be on the ballot in New Zealand. This documentary profiles Oregon’s 1994 Death with Dignity law (enacted by citizens initiated referendum). The latter permits doctors to prescribe a lethal quantity of barbiturates to allow terminal patients to end their lives. Unlike doctor-assisted suicide, patients must be able to self-administer the lethal cocktail. In 1994, Oregon, Switzerland, and the Netherlands were the only jurisdictions that allowed terminal patients to end their lives. As of 2011, a surprisingly small number of Oregon patients had taken their lives under the law.

The film profiles three terminally ill individuals who have secured lethal barbiturate prescriptions after satisfying specific medical criteria and the trained patient advocates who offer reassurance and counseling to all patients in the program. The filmmakers follow one…

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