Two of the most well-known advocates of physician-assisted suicide are Dr. Jack Kevorkian and Dr. Timothy Quill. Moral conservatives oppose euthanasia because they believe it is morally wrong, and is the same as ending life-sustaining treatment. Both doctors feel physician-assisted suicide is a compassionate alternative to living the remainder of life filled with pain and suffering. Many others agree, and there are even published documents instructing loved ones and physicians how to go about assisting in a death with dignity suicide. In fact, many physicians feel that physician-assisted suicide could help keep health care costs in check as the baby-boomer generation ages. Unfortunately, statistics are lacking in the area of terminally ill patients and how many would end their lives if given the choice. Statistics do show, however, that many physicians receive requests for medications that will hasten death, or requests for lethal injections, and that a small number to comply in some cases.
Many physicians oppose the practice because they feel it goes against the oath they took to always save lives, while some do sympathize with terminally ill patients. There are also similar considerations for nurses and pharmacists who might be involved in the assisted suicide. The most famous proponent of physician-assisted suicide is Dr. Jack Kevorkian, now serving a prison sentence for the practice in Michigan.
The Supreme Court has upheld Oregon's right to die act, while striking down other rulings in other states. Their latest decision recognizes this is a state issue, rather than a federal one. The Oregon Act originated in 1994, and was finally passed in 1997. Since then, it has undergone several legal challenges, but continues to be upheld in the courts. It is interesting to note that in an Oregon study, not everyone who requests a lethal dosage of medication actually ingests the medication and dies. Some choose to keep their lethal dosage, and some die before they can use it. The numbers of requests for lethal doses each year have remained stable, as well.