(NBC) Far from the global glare on Brittany Maynard, physicians across America are risking prison by covertly helping terminally ill people end their lives via lethal overdoses, asserts a leading "death-with-dignity" advocate.
In the 45 states where physician-assisted suicide is illegal, some doctors and nurses leave those drugs with their patients or with patients' families while giving cryptic instructions — all to avert prosecution, said Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices, a national nonprofit working to expand the rights of the terminally ill.
"There is a surreptitious, clandestine, aid-in-dying practice in every state of the country," said Combs Lee, who bases that claim, in part, on eight surveys of U.S. doctors and nurses conducted since 1996. That includes a 2003 survey, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, in which responding physicians acknowledged 80 instances of euthanasia requests being "honored."
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