Live Chat Transcript: Inside the Murky World of Assisted Suicide

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November 14, 2012

If a person has an incurable illness and wants to die, should it be a crime to help them do it? What about people who are suffering but might recover? Where do we draw the lines?

People who are terminally ill and live in Oregon or Washington, where physician-assisted suicide is legal, can openly ask a doctor for help, but around the country, people who want help dying have turned to friends, family members and right-to-die organizations. They’ve gone underground.

FRONTLINE producers Miri Navasky and Karen O’Connor gained access to this shadowy world, and documented a series of cases where the lines — legal, ethical, and spiritual — have never been more blurred.

What do we consider “assistance” when it comes to death? How ill, exactly, might someone have to be to justify any assistance? What about cases where there is a question of mental competence? And what can we learn from this debate about Americans’ strained relationship with their own mortality?

We asked Miri and Karen to join us to discuss these questions and take yours in a live chat on Thursday at 2:00 pm ET.

You can leave a question in the chat window below, and come by on Thursday to join the live discussion.


In order to foster a civil and literate discussion that respects all participants, FRONTLINE has the following guidelines for commentary. By submitting comments here, you are consenting to these rules:

Readers' comments that include profanity, obscenity, personal attacks, harassment, or are defamatory, sexist, racist, violate a third party's right to privacy, or are otherwise inappropriate, will be removed. Entries that are unsigned or are "signed" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. We reserve the right to not post comments that are more than 400 words. We will take steps to block users who repeatedly violate our commenting rules, terms of use, or privacy policies. You are fully responsible for your comments.

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