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The first six months of assisted dying in Washington State has been ‘safe, legal and rare’

Compassion and Choices, the organisation advocating and stewarding assisted dying in the USA have issued a report on the use of the Death with Dignity Act in Washington State during its first six months. In that six month period, 28 terminally ill Washingtonians received life ending medications. One-third of those patients have not yet used the medication, eleven used the medication and died in the manner of their choosing, and five went on to die of natural causes.

Davina Hehir, Head of Legal Strategy and Policy at Dignity in Dying said:

“This report adds more evidence to that which we already have from other jurisdictions where assisted dying is legal, which should allay the concerns of those who fear of a ‘slippery slope’ under assisted dying legislation. This shows that the numbers of people choosing an assisted death are very small, and are expected to remain small. The fact that some people go through the process, but die of natural causes demonstrates that having the choice of an assisted death should their suffering become unbearable gives many people the peace of mind they need.”

Dr. Tom Preston, MD, a cardiologist and Compassion and Choices medical director said:

“The use of the Death with Dignity Act has been safe, legal and rare. The tiny proportion of Washington deaths is in line with what we expected based on Oregon’s experience, and belies opponents’ predictions of widespread use or abuse.”


Further information:
– Washington Death with Dignity Act was enacted on 4th November 2008
– The Death with Dignity Act in Oregon was enacted in October 1997

About Dignity in Dying:
– Dignity in Dying campaigns for greater choice, control and access to services at the end of life. It advocates providing terminally ill adults with the option of an assisted death, within strict legal safeguards, and for universal access to high quality end-of-life care.
– Dignity in Dying has over 100,000 supporters and receives its funding entirely from donations from the public.
– Surveys consistently show that at least 80% of the UK population supports a change in the law on assisted dying.