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Physician Assisted Death

APA RESOURCE DOCUMENT ON PHYSICIAN ASSISTED DEATH

  • 2017

APA RESOURCE DOCUMENT ON PHYSICIAN ASSISTED DEATH

Council on Psychiatry and Law (Task Force: Stuart Anfang (chair), Richard Bonnie, Rebecca Brendel, Donna Chen,Vivek Datta, Tanuja Gandhi, Steven K. Hoge, Robert Weinstock)

Over the past two decades, a number of US states have enacted statutes
legalizing the practice of physician-assisted death (PAD).12 In 1997, Oregon passed
the first statute that legalized PAD. Washington (2008), Vermont (2013), California
(2015), and Colorado (2016) have followed suit. In addition, a state court ruling in
Montana legalized PAD in 2009. In 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled PAD to be legal and the Canadian Parliament subsequently enacted a law to implement
PAD. In February 2017, PAD was legalized in the District of Columbia. Legalization
of PAD has been proposed in about half of all states in recent years (for details, see
www.deathwithdignity.org). There appears to be a broad movement to consider
legalization of PAD that may lead to legislation in other states. In the United States,
PAD statutes have been restricted to patients with terminal illness, typically defined
as an illness that is irreversible and likely to lead to death within six months.

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