1st death under Wash. suicide law
OLYMPIA, Wash. - A 66-year-old woman with terminal cancer has become the first person to die under Washington state's new assisted suicide law, an advocacy group said yesterday.
Linda Fleming of Sequim died Thursday night after taking drugs prescribed under the "Death with Dignity" law that took effect in March, said Compassion & Choices of Washington.
The organization said Fleming was diagnosed last month with advanced pancreatic cancer. She had to have been diagnosed by two doctors as terminal in order to qualify for assisted suicide.
The group said Fleming died at home with her family, her dog, and her physician at her bedside.
"The pain became unbearable, and it was only going to get worse," Fleming said in a statement released by the organization.
A physician prescribed the medication, but under the law, patients must administer the drugs themselves.
Chris Carlson, with the Coalition Against Assisted Suicide, said the death was "a sad occasion and it diminishes us all."
The new law was approved in November with nearly 60 percent of the vote, making Washington the second state in the nation with voter-approved assisted suicide legislation. It is based on a 1997 Oregon measure, under which about 400 people have ended their lives.