The Legislation Allows:
a terminally ill, mentally capable adult, who is a resident of Virginia, with a prognosis of six months or less to live, the option to request, obtain and take medication — should they choose— to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable.
The bill is modeled after the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which has been in practice for more than 25 years without a single instance of abuse or coercion.
Just like the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, to be eligible, a person must be:
An adult, aged 18 or older
Terminally ill with a prognosis of 6 months or less to live
Mentally capable and making an informed healthcare decision
Individuals are not eligible for medical aid in dying solely because of age or disability.
The individual must be able to self-administer the medication. Self-administration does not include administration by intravenous (IV) injection or infusion of the patient by another person, including a healthcare provider.
Two healthcare providers must confirm that the person is terminally ill with a prognosis of six months or less to live, mentally capable and not being coerced, unless the person is enrolled in hospice at the time of the request.
If the person is enrolled in hospice at the time of the request, confirmation by a second healthcare provider shall not be required.
A terminally ill person can withdraw their request for medication, not take the medication once they have it or otherwise change their mind at any point.
The attending healthcare provider must inform the requesting individual about all of their end-of-life care options, including comfort care, hospice and pain control.
There is a mandatory mental health evaluation if either healthcare provider has concerns about the patient’s capacity to make an informed health care decision; the prescription cannot be written until the “capacity reviewer” confirms capacity.
Healthcare providers who participate and comply with all aspects of the law are given civil and criminal immunity.
Anyone attempting to coerce a patient will face criminal prosecution.
Life insurance payments cannot be denied to the families of those who use the law.
No healthcare provider is required to participate.
Additional Regulatory Requirements
The individual must make two separate oral requests for the medication, with a 15-day waiting period between the first and second request.
A written request is also required. At least one person must witness the written request. The witness cannot be a relative or someone who stands to benefit from the person’s estate, be the person’s attending healthcare provider, or be an owner, operator or employee of a healthcare facility in which the person is a resident or receiving medical care. If the person is a resident in a long-term care facility at the time of the request, one witness must be an individual designated by the facility.
Prescribing healthcare providers must comply with medical-record documentation requirements and make records available to the state department of health.
The state department of health is required to issue a publicly available annual report. Identifying information about individual patients and doctors is kept confidential.
Additional Information About the Bill:
Sen. Ghazala Hashmi (Democrat)