Taylor Werkema-How to Die in Oregon

In 1994 Oregon became the first state to allow physician assisted suicide.  Through a measure called the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, terminally ill patients were allowed to end their life though medications prescribed by physicians.  This documentary explores the background to the law and then it follows the story of several patients that are going through the Death with Dignity process.  The documentary is a really charged telling of the lives of these terminally ill patients and their loved ones.  The patients range from the elderly to middle age persons suffering from a terminal illness.  This is interesting story because it is very different from the documentary The Suicide Plan we watched in class.  This documentary intimately shows the emotional side of physician-assisted suicide.  The main difference is the people in the documentary focus more on the control physician assisted suicide gives the person over their death, and in turn life, rather than the relief of pain and suffering.

Although the film is clearly sympathetic to the agenda of physician-assisted suicide, it does do a good job of showing the vast amount of good that this program can do through the lens of several different patients experiences.  I recommend this to anyone who has an interest in physician-assisted suicide and end of life care.






One response to “Taylor Werkema-How to Die in Oregon

  1. The images of suicide created by the two films are quite different it seems. In the one case people are turning to rather makeshift methods of ending their lives and their deaths are articulated in a kind of legal grey area. In the other, people have access to efficient means of ending their life and the legal status of their death is clear. Taken together, they present a formidable argument in favor of physician assisted suicide. What would a documentary told from the perspective of those who oppose physician-assisted suicide look like?

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