Download the bill summary here.

History and Context:

Oregon was the first jurisdiction to authorize medical aid in dying through a 1994 ballot initiative. After surviving multiple challenges, the law was officially implemented in 1997. We now have 25 years of experience since the law first took effect and decades of combined experience from the other 10 other authorized jurisdictions. The evidence is clear: medical aid-in-dying laws protect terminally ill individuals, while giving them a compassionate option to die peacefully and ensuring appropriate support and legal protection for the healthcare providers who practice this patient-driven medicine.

However, many eligible patients were not able to use the law due to restrictive roadblocks. After carefully evaluating how the current law is working, in 2019, the Oregon legislature amended its law in an attempt to find a better balance between safeguards intended to protect patients and access to medical aid in dying. The law now gives doctors the ability to waive the current mandatory minimum 15-day waiting period between the two required oral requests and the 48-hour waiting period after the required written request before the prescription can be provided, if the terminally ill person is not expected to live through the period. The amended law went into effect on January 1, 2020.

Litigation Background:

In 2021, Compassion & Choices filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of Dr. Nicholas Gideonse that challenged the constitutionality of the residency restriction contained in Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act. On March 28, 2022, Dr. Gideonse and the State of Oregon defendants reached a settlement in the case. The settlement requires Oregon officials to 1) issue directives halting enforcement of the unconstitutional residency provision of the law, and 2) initiate a legislative request to permanently remove the residency language from the law.

Current Legislation:

HB 2279 would amend the Oregon law to remove the residency requirement. Medical aid in dying should be available to all qualified patients, regardless of their zip code. The process of establishing residency in a new state while terminally ill is an extremely burdensome and expensive process that no one should have to endure. The residency restriction is a barrier to accessing medical aid in dying for dying people who live in a jurisdiction where the practice is not yet authorized. Additionally, a significant number of terminally ill people residing in jurisdictions where medical aid in dying is authorized have also been adversely impacted by these restrictions, as many receive their regular medical care across state lines. Further, the residency restriction is out-of-step with all other medical care provided in the United States.

For More Information:

Callie Riley
Northwest Regional Advocacy Manager