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Think Out Loud

Remembering Peter Goodwin

Pete Springer/OPB

Peter Goodwin was one of the first physicians to voice support for Oregon’s Death with Dignity law in the 1990s. On Sunday, he used the law to end his own life after suffering from a terminal brain disease known as corticobasal degeneration. Goodwin was instrumental in getting the issue on the ballot in 1994. He was on the faculty at OHSU and practiced as a family physician in Oregon and Washington for five decades. He said it was his experience with patients that stoked his passion for the law. After it was passed, he helped some of his terminally ill patients end their lives legally.

Under the law, doctors can prescribe medication to hasten the death of a terminally ill patient with a six-month prognosis. Patients must be mentally competent and they must administer the medication to themselves. Since Oregon’s law was enacted, the practice has become legal in Washington and Montana.

Goodwin got his six-month prognosis from his doctors two months ago . He died in his home surrounded by his family.

Do you have memories of Peter Goodwin? What do you remember about the campaign for Oregon’s Death with Dignity law?


  • Barbara Coombs Lee: President of Compassion and Choices and one of the chief petitioners for the 1994 ballot measure that created the Death with Dignity Act
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