Professor examines lasting effects of Oregon’s ‘Death with Dignity’ act

For 15 years now assisted suicide has been legal in Oregon; a legacy examined from both sides in “Politics of Death” by political science professor William M. Kirtley

(PR NewsChannel) / June 12, 2012 / PORTLAND, Ore.  

"Politics of Death"

"Politics of Death" by William M. Kirtley

In “Politics of Death” (ISBN 1470045400), professor William M. Kirtley interviews activists from both sides of the physician-assisted dying movement in Oregon. Over 15 years ago, the state legalized the practice under the 1997 Death with Dignity Act.

Kirtley’s book analyzes how this first-of-its-kind law passed as well as survived several legal challenges from both the local and federal governments as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. “Politics of Death” addresses the core issues surrounding the right to die movement, including patient autonomy, federal interference and medical ethics. 

This issue is more relevant than ever, after the latest census count revealed that 1 in 8 Americans is over the age of 65. As the baby boomers age and fall ill, more people than ever will exert their rights under the Oregon law and similar measures adopted by Montana and Washington state as well.

For his account, Kirtley interviewed terminally ill Americans who struggled to access legal lethal prescriptions but found themselves caught up in a world of religious bias and political chicanery precisely at the point in their life when they are least equipped to deal with it. He speaks with legal activists who have challenged these right-to-die laws in court and the media. His talks with health care professionals, caretakers and family members who lend an incredibly personal voice to an issue often portrayed in the starkest of moral terms.

“Politics of Death” is a well-documented, compassionate book that remains fair to both sides of this highly contentious debate. It identifies key players and focal institutions in a way that will allow students of the issue to come to their own conclusions.  

“Politics of Death” is available for sale online at and other channels.

About the Author: William M. Kirtley is a writer, professor and scholar who has a doctorate in political science. An adjunct professor for Central Texas College, he also teaches social science courses to deployed U.S. Navy sailors.

He has written dozens of articles analyzing the Death with Dignity movement, the war in Afghanistan and the presidency of George W. Bush. 

William M. Kirtley



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