Intended for healthcare professionals


Peter Goodwin

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 04 April 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e2496
  1. Laura Newman
  1. newman{at}

Successfully campaigned to legalise physician assisted dying and used the act himself

In the months before Peter Goodwin’s death, he described chairing the committee that passed the first legislation in a US state to allow doctors to help patients to die, in 1994, as “the most gratifying work I have done in my entire life.” The Oregon Death with Dignity Act permits physician assisted dying and encourages palliative and hospice care. Since 1997, 935 people have had prescriptions written under the act, and 596 patients have died from taking drugs prescribed under the act ( Washington and Montana have adopted similar legislation. “The people the law has helped; the peace of mind it has brought to patients and doctors—nothing has given me more gratification,” said Goodwin.

Goodwin died on 11 March at his home in Portland, Oregon, aged 83, ending his life on his terms, with the help of a legal, lethal prescription of drugs and the best palliative care and surrounded by his family. However, his colleagues emphasise that Goodwin’s life cannot …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription