Over the past two decades, both professional and lay opinion have shown a markedly favorable shift toward the legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide (PAS). Yet the translation of that support into legislation has come more slowly. Only in 1994, after the failure in some states to enact legislation and the defeat of ballot initiatives in California in 1991 and Washington in 1992, did an initiative finally succeed in Oregon. Although a court injunction has prevented it from taking effect, the fact of its passage marks an historical milestone. Among Western countries, euthanasia and PAS are legally available only in the Netherlands and the Northern Territory of Australia. The latter recently passed a "Rights of the Terminally Ill" bill allowing euthanasia (though it will not immediately go into effect). Elsewhere, the debate remains primarily academic-with the obvious exception of the twelve states in the United States where bills were pending in 1995.
Daniel Callahan & Margot White,
The Legalization of Physician-Assisted Suicide: Creating a Regulatory Potemkin Village,
U. Rich. L. Rev.
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