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Former Washington Gov. Booth Gardner

Washington State Considers Legalizing Assisted Suicide

May 21, 2008 11:01 AM
by Liz Colville
Former governor Booth Gardner is pushing for an initiative that could make Washington the second state to legalize euthanasia.

30-Second Summary

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Booth Gardner, a two-term governor of Washington state during the 1980s and 1990s, is campaigning to make Initiative 1000, a “death with dignity” measure, into state law in Washington, writes Time magazine. A similar measure is already legal in Oregon.

Gardner himself was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease more than 10 years ago, and has since advocated for legal euthanasia in his state.

One of Gardner’s major opponents is his son Doug, a conservative Christian. “We don’t need Booth and Dr. Kevorkian pushing death on us,” Doug told the New York Times. “Dad’s lost. He’s playing God, trying to usurp God’s authority.”

But a new study published in ELDR Magazine May 15 shows that public support for assisted suicide is strong. Of the survey participants, “over 80 percent believe the choice to end one’s life is a personal decision, and two-thirds of adults said they want physician-assisted ‘death with dignity’ legal, as in Oregon.”

The Initiative 1000 bill requires 225,000 signatures by July 3 if it is to be added to the November 2008 ballot.

Opponents of the measure criticize its moral implications. Research on Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s assisted-suicide activities in the 1980s and 1990s showed that women and minority members, and those with mental illnesses, are more likely to seek euthanasia, leading to charges that legalizing the practice may target those who are vulnerable or are undervalued by society.

Headline Links: ‘A New Fight to Legalize Euthanasia,’ Gardner family divided

Background: Oregon’s law; a look at Dr. Kevorkian’s patients

Opinion & Analysis: Terminology, Morals Stir Euthanasia Debate

Related Topic: Jack Kevorkian, “Dr. Death,” released from prison

Reference: Resources about euthanasia

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