A terminally ill woman took her life this week, before cancer could. Linda Fleming is the first person to die under Washington state's "Death with Dignity" law that became effective in March.
Over 60 percent of Washington voters approved the law, which allows willing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to a person over 18 who has been declared competent by the state. In addition, two doctors must certify that the person has six months or less to live, and the patient must make two oral requests, 15 days apart, along with written requests witnessed by two people. These provisions will hopefully prevent abuse of the law, which some fear could be applied involuntarily against marginalized patients or as a form of health care cost containment.