Right to Die Law and Legal Definition

Suicide and attempted suicide used to be crimes, but no longer are criminal offenses. Assisted suicide is a crime in alomst all states, so incidents are almost always kept secret to avoid possible prosecution, although this is extremely rare.

Only one state in the U.S., Oregon, allows assisted suicide. In November l994, its citizens voted for Ballot Measure 16 which permits physician-assisted suicide for the terminally ill under limited conditions. Despite opponents' attempts to block it in the courts, and a ballot initiative in l997 trying to repeal the law, The Death with Dignity Act withstood all challenges and became effective in October l997. During the first five years the Oregon law had been in effect, a total of 129 patients used it to end their lives -- about one in 1,000 of the state's death rate.