The Legislation Allows:
a terminally ill, mentally capable adult 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 20 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 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.
- Two physicians must confirm that the person is terminally ill with a prognosis of six months or less to live, mentally capable and not being coerced.
- 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 physician 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 physician has concerns about the patient’s capacity to make an informed healthcare decision; the prescription can’t be written until the mental health provider confirms capacity.
- Anyone attempting to coerce or exert undue influence on a patient to request medication or destroy a rescission of the request will not be immune from criminal liability.
- Life insurance payments can’t be denied to the families of those who use the law.
- No health provider is required to participate.
- 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 in accordance with Federal and State guidelines.
Additional Regulatory Requirements
- The attending physicians’ practice may not be limited to or primarily consisting of providing medical aid in dying.
- The individual must make two separate requests for the medication, with a 7-day waiting period between the first and second request. If the patient is imminently going to die, the doctor may waive the 7-day waiting period.
- A written request is also required. Two people must witness the written request, one of whom can’t be a relative or someone who stands to benefit from the person’s estate.
- Prescribing physicians 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. Lisa Boscola (PA-18)
- Sen. Wayne D. Fontana (PA-22)
- Sen. Timothy P. Kearney (PA-26)
- Sen. Sharif Street (PA-3)