OREGON: New Restrictions for Assisted-Suicide Law?
A bill has been introduced in the Oregon Legislature that would make more than a dozen changes to the state's controversial assisted-suicide law, including a provision that "would restrict where and with whom a dying person could use a lethal prescription." The Portland Oregonian reports that the bill, introduced this week by state Sen. Neil Bryant (R), also contain language that would allow hospitals to "sanction doctors who participate in an assisted suicide when it conflicts with hospital policy." Bryant said his intent was not to block the implementation of the law, but to "properly implement" the initiative.
The bill would require "another adult to be present when the patient takes the lethal medication;" restrict use of lethal medication to "a health care facility ... the patient's home or the home of another consenting person, or the medical office or clinic of the attending physician;" define a qualifying Oregon resident as someone who could show documentation of their residency, and create a new panel to advise the Oregon Health Division "about how to handle a doctor who has not complied with the law." The measure would also define who is capable of making the decision to use lethal medication -- the current law defines who is incapable. Both Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) and George Eighmey, director of Compassion in Dying of Oregon, said they were open to improvements to the law, but Eighmey said, "The act is working, and it's working quite well ... so why are we changing anything when it's working?" (Barnett/Lednicer, 1/21).