The Death With Dignity Act with into effect in Washington State Thursday, allowing hospitals to prescribe medication to terminal patients to end their lives.
Hospitals can opt out of the law, however.
Cassie Sauer, vice president of the Washington State Hospital Association, says the law states that the drugs must be self-administered by the patients. Any assistance from parents or a spouse is illegal.
"Hospitals have very broad rights under the law. They can prohibit all participation by their providers. ... they can step side and let the providers make their own determination," Sauer tells NPR's Robert Siegel. "Many hospitals have found a middle ground.
"What they're saying: Our doctors may not provide the prescription, but they may serve in a counseling role helping the patient, and ensure that they've made the right decision."