PORTLAND, OR -- Oregon's Death with Dignity Act is changing, thanks to a recent court settlement. State officials will no longer enforce the requirement that patients be Oregon residents when pursuing medical aid in dying.
The advocacy group Compassion and Choices filed a federal lawsuit last year on behalf of a Portland-area doctor who regularly treats patients across the river in Washington. He argued the residency requirement discriminates against out-of-state patients.
Opponents say dropping the restriction opens the floodgates to people coming to Oregon for the sole purpose of dying. But Peter Hawkes, an attorney for Compassion and Choices says, "It’s simply unlikely that someone who’s at an advanced stage where they are considering taking advantage of the Death with Dignity Act, that they are going to be in a position to come to Oregon, meet with an Oregon doctor, get prescribed the medication in Oregon, take the medication in Oregon." He adds, "Even in Oregon, where it's already something that's available to people, less than 1% of deaths are a result of someone taking advantage of the Death with Dignity Act. So, we're talking about very small numbers here. And the idea that there's going to be a string of people to Oregon looking to end their lives is just simply not really plausible."
Under the settlement, the Oregon Health Authory, Medical Board and Multnomah County District Attorney agree not to enfirce the residency requirement. The OHA also says it will pursue legislative action to permanently drop the restriction from the state law. Click HERE to read more from Compassion and Choices about the settlement.