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Barbara Coombs Lee: Death with Dignity

[ photo: Barbara Coombs Lee ]

Death with Dignity

Nurse practitioner, physician's assistant, lawyer, and president of Compassion and Choices, Barbara Coombs Lee '69 is a chief petitioner and coauthor of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, the only existing aid-in-dying law in the U.S. The law was passed by Oregon voters in 1994 and has survived numerous legal challenges, including a Justice Department ruling that barred Oregon doctors from using the law. That ruling was overturned by the 9th U.S. Circuit of Appeals, but Attorney General John Ashcroft filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing that assisted suicide is not a "legitimate medical purpose." The Supreme Court agreed to review the casein 2006 and upheld the 9th U.S. Circuit Court's ruling.


VQ Spring 2003
Photo credit: Mark Mann