Sociology, Department of



Jennifer A. Andersen

Date of this Version



Published in OMEGA—Journal of Death and Dying (2018), 10p.

doi 10.1177/0030222818788254


Copyright © 2018 Jennifer A. Andersen. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


The Oregon ‘‘Death With Dignity’’ Act (DWD Act) allows a terminally ill patient with 6 months to live to ask a physician for medication to end their life. To receive the medication, the DWD Act requires the patient to verbally request the prescription twice 2 weeks apart as well as in writing. Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis have three main barriers to using DWD: (a) the ability to communicate their informed consent as the disease progresses further, (b) the possibility of dementia which may affect their decisional capacity, and (c) given the nature and speed of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, limited time is available for patients to self-administer the prescription and may rush the time line for the death. This article reviews the current knowledge and addresses the need for adjustments to existing law and recommendations for states considering a DWD law.