Education and Outreach
The Oregon Access Campaign continues the work of normalizing medical aid in dying in medical systems across the state. After more than a year of meetings and educational outreach, in January 2018 Legacy Health, one of the largest health providers in the state, instituted a policy that would reverse the system’s 20 year prohibition of physician participation in medical aid in dying. Compassion & Choices partnered with staff there to draft the policy and to provide education.
Compassion & Choices Medical Director Dr. David Grube has also been active in promoting education across the state, providing in-service training to hospice workers, giving medical aid-in-dying presentations to medical and nursing students and serving as the keynote speaker at the most recent Oregon State University Gerontology Conference regarding compassionate care at the end of life.
Accessing the Law
If you’re a terminally ill Oregonian who would like to access the law, use our new Find Care tool to locate a health care team that will honor your end-of-life values.
Oregon Advance Directive
State-specific advance directives make clear your end-of-life preferences if you are unable to make or communicate medical treatment decisions yourself. For the Oregon advance directive form, click here.
Oregon Right to Die, a political action committee founded in 1993, wrote and subsequently passed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act. Compassion & Choices President Barbara Coombs Lee co-authored Oregon’s pioneering law. She, with Dr. Peter Goodwin and Elvin Sinnard, were the “chief petitioners” of the Act.
Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act was affirmed by ballot initiative in 1994 by 51% of voters. Oregon legislators, believing voters had erred, put a repeal before them in 1997, which voters rejected by almost 60%.
Compassion in Dying was formed in 1993. It became Compassion & Choices in 2006.
After the passing of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act in 1994, Lee v. Oregon was the first challenge to medical aid in dying, not only in Oregon, but in the United States.
U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft directed agents of the Drug Enforcement Agency that Oregon physicians prescribing within the Oregon law would violate federal law. Compassion & Choices joined the state of Oregon and sued Ashcroft and his successor Alberto Gonzales. The Supreme Court’s decision in Oregon v. Gonzales again affirmed the Oregon law in 2006.
On April 5, 2019, Compassion & Choices testified in support of Senate Bill 579, which would allow doctors to make an exception to the waiting period requirements if the patient is not expected to live through the 15 day wait. SB 579 passed the Senate and was heard by the state House of Representatives Rules Committee on June 5. Compassion & Choices testified in support. Oregon’s state House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 579 with a vote of 35-22 on Tuesday, June 18.
In 2019, Governor Kate Brown signed SB 579 into law. This marks the first time legislators amended a medical aid-in-dying law to reduce barriers to access to this compassionate option. The ability to waive the mandatory waiting period went into effect January 1, 2020.