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Last November, Oregon's voters passed by initiative the first physician-assisted suicide law in the nation. Measure 16 authorizes physicians to prescribe lethal medicaiton for competent, terminally ill adults if they make three separate requests, wait 15 days to reconsider, and get a second medical opinion of their prognosis. The new law was challenged immediately on several legal grounds; plaintiffs have won a preliminary injunction, and arguments have been scheduled in cross motions for summary jugement. Lee v. Oregon (D Or. No. 94-6467-ITO).

The Oregon court's decision will mark the fourth time in the past year that the once-obscure issue of assisted suicide has been considered by the judiciary, increasing the likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a constitutional right exists for the terminally ill to seek assistance in ending their lives.