PORTLAND, Oregon (CWN) - An octogenarian woman with cancer became the first person to take advantage of the US-only law allowing doctor-assisted suicide and took her own life on Tuesday.

      The pro-suicide Compassion in Dying group said on Wednesday that the unidentified woman took a lethal dose of drugs prescribed by a doctor recommended by the group. "I am looking forward to it," the woman said in a tape played for reporters. "I was always active. I cannot possibly see myself living a few more months like this. I will be relieved of all the stress I have." Archbishop John Vlazny of Portland said he was deeply saddened by the news. "The suicide of this elderly woman can only bring anguish to those who have resisted the public policy initiatives that changed this law in Oregon," he said in a statement. The Church has been a leader in the fight against passage of the law.

      Oregon voters approved a measure last November that confirmed the 1994 assisted-suicide law which had faced numerous legal challenges. The law requires that two doctors certify that the patient has less than six months to live, and it requires a 15-day waiting period before the drugs can be prescribed.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT:To subscribe to Catholic World News Service, available daily by e-mail, click here .

March 27-29, 1998 volume 9, no. 62         DAILY CATHOLIC