Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Robert Baker




life, euthansia, death, physicians, patient


Many people believe that life contains an overwhelming sense of sanctity, and must be maintained at all costs according to religious beliefs or other deep moral axioms. However, when a terminally ill patient’s suffering becomes intolerable, they should be constitutionally protected to have a physician aid in the ending of their life. While euthanasia is prohibited in every US state under general homicide legislation, physician aid in dying (PAD) has become a sweeping movement across our nation. In the late 90’s, Oregon pioneered the movement by passing the Death With Dignity Act, which allows terminally ill patients to receive a lethal prescription of secobarbital or pentobarbital to be ingested at the time of their choosing. Following Oregon’s lead, Washington (2004) and Vermont (2013) adopted similar pieces of legislation allowing terminally ill state residents to seek the same prescriptions. Furthermore, Montana (2008) and New Mexico (2014) have established court rulings protecting patients and physicians who use PAD. Evaluating the data reported by these states has allowed me to draw several conclusions; PAD is safe, not abused by physicians nor patients, not a slippery slope to euthanasia, and allows certain terminally ill patients to maintain their dignity when making personal end-of-life decisions.