Tags: baby | boomers | death | laws

Aging Baby Boomers Push Doctor-Aided Death Laws

Friday, 12 Apr 2013 03:17 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Baby boomers are lobbying across the country for laws that would allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs for patients who are terminally ill.

According to the Pew Research Center, another 10,000 people turns 65 everyday, and that number will remain steady for the next 19 years, Bloomberg reported Friday.

The growing numbers mean more people are now confronting their own mortality while watching their parents die often-painful deaths.

“The baby boomers are aging, and we all have witnessed or are about to witness the death of our parents or people very close to us,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, who runs the advocacy group Compassion & Choices, which lobbies for aid-in-dying laws. “There is an attitude difference about the boomer generation. There is an expectation that we can be empowered and we can impact our fate.”

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Five states are considering right-to-die legislation, and there appears to be more public and legislative support for those bills this year than in the past, Bloomberg noted.

Bills being considered in several states are modeled on laws in Washington and Oregon, the only states that allow doctors to help terminally ill patients die.

The laws in Washington and Oregon require two doctors to sign off on each case and the patient must have fewer than six months to live. The patients must also be able to self-administer the drugs prescribed to end their life.

Last year, about 77 people in Oregon committed physician-assisted suicide, and in Washington the latest figures show that 70 people have died through assisted death.

“Most people we hear from are fairly well-educated and they don’t like the choices available in the medical world,” said Judy Epstein, director of clinical services at Compassion & Choices.

But while baby boomers are increasingly supportive of assisted death legislation, many doctors, religious organizations, and pro-life groups continue to oppose it.

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