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Kate Christensen Speaks with Pat Matheny, a Recipient of Lethal Medication under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 1999

KATE CHRISTENSEN
Affiliation:
Permanente Medical Group in Northern California

Abstract

Oregon is the only state in the United States where a physician may legally prescribe a lethal dose of barbiturate for a patient intending suicide. The Oregon Death with Dignity Act was passed by voters in 1994 and came into effect after much legal wrangling in October of 1997. At the same time, a cabinetmaker named Pat Matheny was struggling with progressive weakness from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. I met with Pat and his family for a lengthy interview in October 1998 in Coos Bay, Oregon, for a television news report on his decision to get a lethal prescription. Below is an extract from that interview. On the day this introduction was written, 10 March 1999, Pat took the prescribed lethal overdose of barbiturates and died at home. His illness was taking his voice, he could not move his hands or legs, and breathing was becoming very difficult. His mother told me he knew that was “the right time” for him.

Type
CQ INTERVIEW
Copyright
© 1999 Cambridge University Press

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Kate Christensen Speaks with Pat Matheny, a Recipient of Lethal Medication under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act
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Kate Christensen Speaks with Pat Matheny, a Recipient of Lethal Medication under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act
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Kate Christensen Speaks with Pat Matheny, a Recipient of Lethal Medication under Oregon's Death with Dignity Act
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