176 | A Legal guide for Lesbian and Gay Couples Qualifications for Witnesses Many states require that two witnesses watch you sign your health care documents and that they verify in writing that you appeared to be of sound mind and signed the documents without anyone else influencing your decision. Each state’s qualifications for these witnesses are slightly different. In many states, for example, a spouse, another close relative, or any person who would get property from you at your death (this includes anyone you name in your will) is not allowed to act as a witness for the document directing health care. And many states prohibit your attending physician from being a witness. The purpose of the laws restricting who can witness your documents is to avoid any appearance or possibility that another person was acting against your wishes in encouraging specific medical care. States that prevent close relatives or potential inheritors from being witnesses, for example, justify their restrictions by noting that these people may have a conflict of interest. Physician-Assisted Suicide Behind closed doors, many doctors acknowledge that they have helped gravely ill patients end their own lives—many of them by writing large prescriptions for drugs, ostensibly to help patients with sleeping or pain problems. Doctor-assisted suicide is currently a crime in almost all states. Oregon is the only state that allows doctor-assisted life ending. But legislation arises each year in other states proposing to allow voters to consider allowing doctor-assisted lethal injections for incurably ill patients. Some states have established commissions to study and make recommendations on the issue. The Internet provides current information about the legalities and practicalities of physician-assisted suicide. One of the most complete websites is the Euthanasia World Directory, at www.finalexit.org.