When Assisted Suicide Goes From Theory To Practice

Time magazine has a poignant story (which is gated) and video (which is available) on Dr. Peter Goodwin, one of the advocates who helped get assisted suicide laws in place in Oregon and Washington.

Goodwin himself, at the time of the interview, suffered from a degenerative disease that was in the process of killing him and had to decide whether he wanted to take his own life. 

The interview is the last one he gave before his death.

Eric M. Jones.

...so did you hear about Dr. Kevorkian's new Death Machine? I has something like a snooze button. When the alarm goes off, push it and you can live five more minutes.

Ba-dum...try the veal, I'll be here all week. Be sure you tip your waitress.


Euthanasia is one of the highest forms of civilization. I am so glad I live in a country (the Netherlands) where my father could decide for himself when his life was, due to progressive esophagus cancer that had spread to his belly, no longer worth living. Keeping his dignity and good spirit until his last breath.

The last thing he did was to declare his love for my mother and give her a "goodnight kiss" as they did every night.

Mike B

Good for him. If more people were as realistic about the quality of life issues involved with end of life stage medical technology we might be able to get a hold on the ballooning costs of the same.

Eric Hamilton

I like what Ken said in this item: http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2012/feb/08/how-doctors-choose-die


That story was heart-wrenching. It's hard to imagine the dispair that would drive someone to end their life when he so obviously wanted to continue to be a part of his children's lives.

With that said, is it too grim to use this opportunity to discuss how end of life care is also one of the leading causes of ballooning healthcare costs? I wonder what the economic impact of the Death With Dignity Act has been.

Enter your name...

In terms of direct costs at the state-wide level, it has had very little impact, because almost no one uses it. In terms of costs for users, it has dramatically increased costs, because getting official sanction from the medical establishment for your suicide is very expensive in terms of both money and energy. It's far easier and cheaper to "do it yourself", like any other person committing suicide, than to use (many would say "abuse") the medical profession for suicide.

In terms of indirect costs, the push to use the medical establishment as a method of suicide resulted in research to reduce the demand for suicide through improved painkillers, better treatment of depression, etc.

Bob The Veterinarian

Personally, I believe it is the right of an individual to choose how they wish to be treated or not treated and die with dignity when confronted with terminal disease or chronic disease that will produce unbearable suffering unamenable to any medical interventions. But then as a veterinarian, I and most other veterinarians want our patients to enjoy a good quality of life as our primary goal and understand when our efforts will have little positive long term or even short term effects on achieving decent quality of life. Then we have "the conversation" with the pet's owner about what we can do and that euthanazing their pet is less cruelty than allowing long term sufering with no hope of positive long term outcome.

I really believe that assisted suicide is less cruel that repeated medical interventions especially when they have limited or no effet on quality of life. It certainly would have made my mother's final year much more humane as her entire nervous system shut down from ALS and I was there with my father taking care of her at home . Every day she told us she wanted to die and I could see her very basic ned to be relieved of her worsening suffering. I must admit that I was very willing to end her life painlessly as I had done it before with dignity and compassion. I really think I failed her in that way. As she was dying, a beloved uncle who had survived a heart attack, one bout with cancer and who was still living independently, shot himself in the head as he feared he had cancer again. He lay in the hospital for only a few days. Would not it be better to let everyone make their own dignified choices about how to end their life from terminal illness as we let them make their own choices about how they lived their life?



This article is kind of inspiring depending if you can accept the act of assisted suicide. If someone is in so much pain that it is not worth living, is it alright to help them out? In some cases yes, in some cases no but obviously Dr. Goodwin believed wholeheartedly in his decision.


I don't really see why this is even a hot topic for political debate. I mean, aren't we essentially offing ourselves by eating things that are bad for us? By sitting around all day instead of going outside for a walk? Or bungee jumping? Or driving a car? I don't see the government heavily taxing McDonald's and the likes or forcing a mandatory 30 minute workout session on the people.

We seem to be free to choose when the government allows that free choice. But is that truly free? It isn't.

Euthanasia is a person's individual right. If I want to drive a car, or eat a MCD hamburger instead of a piece of fruit, that is also my right. For some reason, I have those rights, but not the one that concerns my own life. It seems like a contradiction to me. I know myself better than the government does and I know what is right for me. The claim that the government is trying to protect me from myself is bogus. By forbidding Euthanasia, the government is taking away my humanity, my dignity and my freedom. And in the end, isn't that all we have?

Good for you, Dr. Goodwin. May you rest in peace.