Oregon's Death with Dignity Act

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  • Topic: Oregon Death with Dignity Act, Death, Oregon
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  • Published : April 1, 2013
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Oregon's Death with Dignity Act
Morgan Boyer
Mountain View High School

Abstract
Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, gives competent Oregon adults the right to commit physician assisted suicide through a lethal dose of medication, also known as physician assisted suicide. A doctor was behind the movement, and a big of question of the era was how people should handle the end of their life. The law faced several judicial complications and challenges before becoming an accepted and legitimate law in Oregon. Physician assisted suicide is controversial and interest groups dealing mainly with but not limited to human liberties and religious reasoning contrast on the topic.

Policy Identification and Explanation
Under ORS Chapter 127: Death with Dignity Act (127.800-127.995), a capable adult Oregon resident who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness by a physician may request a prescription for a legal dose of medicine for the purpose of terminating the patient’s life (ORS Chapter 127: Death with Dignity Act, 1994). A person is considered eligible for the lethal medication if they are an adult, of at least eighteen years of age, are mentally capable, a resident of Oregon, have been determined by an attending physician as suffering from a terminal illness, and have voluntarily expressed their wish to die (ORS Chapter 127: Death with Dignity Act, 1994). A patient must prove their residency to be considered eligible for physician assisted suicide. Factors demonstrating residency in the state of Oregon include but are not limited to, “possession of an Oregon driver license, registration to vote in Oregon, evidence that the person owns or leases property in Oregon, or the filing of an Oregon tax return from the most recent tax year” (ORS Chapter 127: Death with Dignity Act, 1994). A patient must follow extensive steps before being granted the right to die. They must fill out the ORS 127.879 form and sign and date it. Next, they must have two witnesses, which attest to the paramount of their knowledge that the patient is capable and acting on free will to end their life. One witness cannot be a relative of the patient, whether it is through blood, marriage or adoption. Nor may that one witness be a person entitled to any part of the patient’s will, or an owner, operator, or employee of a health care facility where the patient is currently receiving treatment. This witness may also not be the attending physician of the patient (ORS Chapter 127: Death with Dignity Act, 1994). Furthermore, the consulting physician must examine the patient and medical records to confirm the request legitimate and applicable. The patient must then make an oral request following their written request. Continually, this oral request must be reiterated in no less than fifteen sequential days following the original request. (ORS Chapter 127: Death with Dignity Act, 1994) After the request is made and before the prescription is filled, the physician has many responsibilities to uphold according to ORS Chapter 127. It is the responsibility of the physician that the patient make an informed decision before the medication is prescribed or consumed. In section 1.01 of ORS Chapter 127.800, an informed decision is defined as “a decision by a qualified patient, to request and obtain a prescription to end his or her life in a humane and dignified manner, that is based on appreciation of the relevant facts and after being fully informed by the attending physician of, his or her medical diagnosis and prognosis, the potential risks associated with taking the medication, the probable result of taking the medication to be prescribed, and the feasible alternatives, including, but not limited to, comfort care, hospice care and pain control” (ORS Chapter 127: Death with Dignity Act, 1994). The physician must educate the patient on the irreversible decision they are making with no bias on whether they should continue on or back down from the choice. The physician must...
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