In some situations, people who are seriously ill or who are facing long periods of extended pain without any reasonable expectation of recovery may wish to end their own life before they go through a natural death. If these people are unable to carry out this final act, they sometimes wish for their physician or someone else to assist them in committing suicide. This is not the type situation which is covered by your advanced directive or living will, which allows for certain a treatment to be withheld or withdrawn when death is imminent and/or no hope exists of substantial recovery. Generally speaking, physician assisted suicide is not widely recognized as a legal option in the United States, and only in very limited circumstances is it allowed in a small minority of states. Speak to your estate planning attorney for detailed advice about your state’s right to die laws and the status of physician-assisted suicide in your area. Note: Missouri does not allow the overt act of physician assisted suicide.
Oregon: The state of Oregon does allow for some form of physician-assisted suicide for some patients that meet specific requirements under state law. The law allows for mentally competent patients who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness that will result in the patient’s death within six months to request a prescription for a lethal dose of medication from their physicians.
Washington: Washington’s law is very similar to Oregon’s law in that both allow some terminally ill patients to request a prescription for lethal dose of medication from his or her physician. In both states the doctor can refuse to provide such a prescription if he or she has a moral or ethical objection.