Assisted suicide claims 1st victim in Wash.
Washington state has its first
death by physician-assisted suicide since the state's voters approved
the practice in November.
Linda Fleming, 66, died May 21 after taking a lethal dose of drugs
prescribed for her under Washington's Death With Dignity Act, according
to Compassion and Choices, a pro-assisted suicide organization. Fleming
had been diagnosed only a month earlier with pancreatic cancer.
"The pain became unbearable, and it was only going to get worse,"
Fleming said, according to a release from Compassion and Choices. "I am
a very spiritual person, and it was very important to me to be
conscious, clear-minded and alert at the time of death.... The powerful
pain medications were making it difficult to maintain the state of mind
I wanted to have at my death."
The head of an organization opposed to assisted suicide said, however,
that people with terminal illnesses "need competent, supportive care,
not lethal drugs." Eileen Geller, president of True Compassion
Advocates, said she is "deeply concerned that vulnerable ill people's
fears not be exploited. Excellent comfort care, pain control, symptom
management and support are available through hospice and palliative
"Assisted suicide is a tragedy which heightens fear and increases
misinformation about living and dying," said Geller, a hospice nurse
for more than 25 years. "We need to advocate for truly compassionate
care, not false and misleading choices."
The Washington law is patterned after one in Oregon, which has had 401
deaths by assisted suicide reported to the state since the practice
became legal in 1997. Oregon set a record in 2008 for most assisted
suicides in a year with 60.
Contact: Tom Strode
Source: Baptist Press
Date: May 28, 2009
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