Washington voters pass initiative allowing medically assisted suicide - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Washington voters pass initiative allowing medically assisted suicide

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Voters have approved Initiative 1000, making Washington the second state to give terminally ill people the option of medically assisted suicide. The measure, patterned after Oregon's "Death with Dignity" law, allows a terminally ill person to be prescribed lethal medication.

The medication would be self-administered. With about 30 percent of the expected vote counted Tuesday in unofficial returns, I-1000 was being approved by a margin of about 58 percent to about 42 percent.

Supporters, led publicly by Democratic former Gov. Booth Gardner, say the initiative will provide a compassionate way for sick people to die. Gardner has Parkinson's disease, a disorder that affects motor skills. He would not be eligible under I-1000, since Parkinson's is not considered terminal.

Opponents, including the Catholic church, say assisted suicide is a dangerous step that devalues life.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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