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00000181-fa79-da89-a38d-fb7f2b0b0001Talking about the end of life is mostly a taboo topic in our culture. Few people are comfortable with it.But having those difficult discussions, either with ourselves, or with loved ones, is critical. Communicating our wishes can make a difference in quality of life, even as life is ending.In this series, reporter Ruby de Luna explores how families and doctors are tackling these conversations. Series edited by Carol Smith.Join the conversation on Twitter using #VitalTalk.WATCH: KUOW hosts a Death Over Dinner conversation featuring host Ross Reynolds and an expert panel.

Why Doctors Struggle With Death with Dignity

Ethicist Tom McCormick works with doctors on issues like death with dignity.
University of Washington School of Medicine Department of Bioethics and Humanities.
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Ethicist Tom McCormick works with doctors on issues like death with dignity.

The doctor’s oath is to "do no harm." Some doctors have a hard time dealing with requests to help someone toward death. 

Ross Reynolds speaks with Tom McCormick, a senior lecturer emeritus at the Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington, about doctors and Washington state's death with dignity law.

McCormick works with doctors on these ethical issues. Ninety-six percent of the cases in this state of assistance with dying have been in Western Washington. McCormick explains why some doctors are unwilling to provide the service, or even if they do they wish to anonymous.