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Assisted suicide law's fate in voters' hands

Opponents of Oregon's doctor-assisted suicide law tried to swing last-minute votes for repeal Monday with help from a son of the first person who killed herself with the help of Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

Neil Adkins said he disagreed with his mother's decision in 1990 to end her life because she didn't want to die a lingering death from Alzheimer's disease. He said he thought the law should be repealed because it would encourage other people to commit suicide.

"I believe if you give people an easy exit they will use it," said Adkins, a Redmond, Wash., businessman.

His comments came as Oregonians continued to cast ballots on Measure 51, which would repeal the nation's only law allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients.

Ballots were mailed to voters three weeks ago and must be returned to local election offices by the close of business today.

The 1994 law allows a doctor to prescribe pills to anyone with less than six months to live who requests life-ending drugs. It has never taken effect because of legal challenges, and even if it survives the election it likely will remain tied up by lawsuits.

A poll conducted for a Portland television station found a majority of people were against repeal of the law.