Wash. has first death under assisted suicide law

May 22, 2009 9:52:04 AM PDT
A 66-year-old woman who had stage 4 pancreatic cancer is the first person to die under Washington state's new assisted suicide law. Linda Fleming of Sequim died Thursday night after taking drugs prescribed under the "Death with Dignity" law that took effect in March. Assisted suicide group Compassion & Choices of Washington announced Fleming's death Friday morning.

The organization says Fleming was diagnosed last month with stage 4 pancreatic cancer.

The new law was approved in last November's election with a nearly 60 percent vote. It is based on Oregon's measure which passed in 1997. Since then, about 401 people have used the Oregon law to end their lives.

Washington and Oregon are the only states to allow assisted suicide.

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