Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act allows terminally ill Oregon residents to obtain and use prescriptions from their physicians for self-administered, lethal medications. Under the act, ending one’s life does not constitute suicide, mercy killing or homicide. The act prohibits euthanasia, where a physician or other person directly administers a medication to end another’s life
To request a prescription for lethal medications, the act requires that a patient must be:
• 18 years or older.
• A resident of Oregon.
• Diagnosed with a terminal illness that will lead to death within six months.
• Capable of making health care decisions when requesting medication.
• Capable of ingesting the medication without assistance.
Patients meeting these requirements are eligible to request a prescription for lethal medication from a licensed Oregon physician. To receive a prescription for lethal medication, the following steps must be followed:
• The patient must make two oral requests to his or her physician, separated by at least 15 days.
• The patient must provide a written request to his or her physician, signed in the presence of two witnesses.
• The prescribing physician and a consulting physician must confirm the diagnosis and prognosis.
• The prescribing physician and a consulting physician must determine whether the patient is competent to make the decision and take the medicine on his or her own.
• The prescription for the lethal medication cannot be written less than 48 hours after the second oral request.
• If either physician believes the patient’s judgment is impaired by a psychiatric or psychological disorder, the patient must be referred for a psychological examination.
• The prescribing physician must inform the patient of feasible alternatives, including comfort care, hospice care and pain control.
• The prescribing physician must request, but may not require, the patient to notify his or her next-of-kin of the prescription requests.
• Physicians must report to the state Department of Human Services all prescriptions for lethal medications.
Online: Oregon Death with Dignity Act webpage: