End-of-Life Choice, Palliative Care and Counseling

Dr. Peter Goodwin Leaves a Lasting Legacy

Voices of Compassion > Stories > Dr. Peter Goodwin Leaves a Lasting Legacy

Eighteen years ago, Peter Goodwin led the fight to guarantee Oregonians the right to Death with Dignity. Last winter, he’s approached his own death. And he had a prescription.

Dr. Peter Goodwin
Dr. Peter Goodwin

A campaigner in the 1994 and 1997 ballot measures leading to Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, Peter Goodwin spent a lifetime taking care of others. The public trusted Dr. Goodwin as a knowledgeable, seasoned physician. By 1980 Dr. Goodwin had joined the family practice faculty of Oregon Health & Science University. He trained generations of Oregon doctors, and many knew him as both a learned professor and trusted mentor.

Peter’s moral compass was forged in the heat of apartheid in his native South Africa. He began medical practice as a technically skilled, procedure-oriented surgeon. He ended it as a role model for the modern family practitioner, a generalist whose relationship with the patient promotes healing and growth, from the beginning of life to its end.

Peter was diagnosed with a rare, fatal brain disease called corticobasal degeneration (CBD). CBD has no known causes, no known cures, and very few therapies to relieve symptoms. Facing the end of his own life with grace, Peter spent a February afternoon with us reflecting on the legacy he will leave behind.

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