The Legislation Allows:
request, obtain and take medication — should they choose —to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable.
The bill is modeled after laws in authorized jurisdictions and the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, which has been in practice for 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 of making an informed healthcare decision
Individuals are not eligible for medical aid in dying because of age or disability.
In addition to the strict eligibility criteria, the Our Care, Our Options Act includes the following requirements:
- The individual must be able to self-administer the medication and must take a voluntary, affirmative act to ingest the medication themselves.
- Two healthcare providers must confirm the individual is terminally ill with a prognosis of six months or less to live, mentally capable and not being coerced.
- The attending healthcare provider must inform terminally ill adults requesting medical aid in dying about other end-of-life care options including comfort care, hospice care and pain control, and provide referrals to those options as requested or clinically indicated.
- The individual can withdraw their request for medication, decide to not take the medication once they have it, or otherwise change their mind at any point.
- There is a mandatory mental health evaluation by a licensed mental health provider if either healthcare provider has concerns about the individual’s capacity to make an informed healthcare decision; medication cannot be prescribed until the individual’s healthcare decision-making is assessed.
- Healthcare providers who participate, practice within the standard of medical care, and comply with all aspects of the law receive civil and criminal immunity.
- Anyone attempting to coerce a terminally ill person will face criminal prosecution.
- Health insurers may not deny or alter healthcare benefits available to terminally ill individuals based on the availability of medical aid in dying or otherwise attempt to coerce a person with a terminal illness to make a request for aid-in-dying medication.
- Life insurance payments cannot be denied to the families of those who utilize the Act.
- No healthcare facility, provider or pharmacist is required to participate. Healthcare providers and facilities that choose not to participate in the process of medical aid in dying must disclose their policy.
- The underlying illness — not medical aid in dying — will be listed as the cause of death on the death certificate.
- Unused medication must be disposed of according to state and federal guidelines.
Additional Regulatory Requirements
- The individual must make two separate oral requests for the medication, with a 48-hour waiting period between the first and second oral request. The waiting period may be waived for qualified individuals who, within reasonable medical judgment, will die before the 48-hour period ends.
- A written request is also required. One person must witness the written request, and the witness cannot be a relative or someone who stands to benefit from the individual’s estate.
- The attending 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 providers is kept confidential.
Additional Information About the Bill:
House Primary Sponsors:
- Rep. Sue Cahill
- Rep. Elinor A. Levin
- Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell