Physician-assisted suicide and physician-assisted euthanasia: evidence from abroad and implications for UK neurologists

In this article, we consider the arguments for and against physician-assisted suicide (AS) and physician-assisted euthanasia (Eu). We assess the evidence around law and practice in three jurisdictions where one or both are legal, with emphasis on data from Oregon. We compare the eligibility criteria in these different regions and review the range of approved disorders. Cancer is the most common cause for which requests are granted, with neurodegenerative diseases, mostly motor neurone disease, ranking second. We review the issues that may drive requests for a physician-assisted death, such as concerns around loss of autonomy and the possible role of depression. We also review the effectiveness and tolerability of some of the life-ending medications used. We highlight significant variation in regulatory oversight across the different models. A large amount of data are missing or unavailable. We explore physician-AS and physician-assisted Eu within the wider context of end-of-life practice.

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