10 Questions for Peter Goodwin

The doctor who pushed for Oregon's right-to-die law, Peter Goodwin, on brain disease and facing the hereafter

Carla Axtman / Compassion and Choices

Dr. Peter Goodwin

You were instrumental in the campaign for Oregon's pioneering Death with Dignity Act. Why that issue, death?
In 1972, long before hospice existed where I practiced, I helped a man die. He and his wife came to see me. He handed me a whole sheaf of information about his condition, and he said, "Doctor, I want you to help me die." And I recoiled, but their problem was so, so pressing that I gave him a prescription. For months I was terrified. I put my own career and my family's livelihood in jeopardy.

Oregon's act basically allows...

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