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Oregon Legislature Proposes Major Change To ‘Death With Dignity’ Program


The Oregon Legislature has introduced a bill permitting terminally ill patients’ health care agents to collect and administer their life-ending drugs.

Senate Bill 893 would permit “expressly identified agents” to lawfully administer doctor-prescribed barbiturates in a “humane and dignified manner” to patients unable to self-administer. The legislation is an extension of the state’s Death with Dignity Act.

If passed, this would be the first U.S. jurisdiction allowing health care agents the freedom to legally assist patients seeking death.

The bill is sponsored by Democratic lawmakers Sens. Michael Dembrow and Elizabeth Steiner Hayward and Rep. Mitch Greenlick.

Oregon was the first state to pass so-called “Death with Dignity” legislation. Physician-assisted suicide is legal in a handful of other states: California, Colorado, Montana, Washington, Vermont and Washington, D.C.

Peg Sandeen, Death with Dignity executive director

Recommended Reading: Death With Dignity Director Speaks With Life Matters Media 

Death with Dignity executive director Peg Sandeen credits growing acceptance of physician-assisted suicide to the aging population and increased awareness about the controversial practice.

Support for physician-assisted suicide is proliferating in state legislatures across the nation; proponents contend the practice enhances patient freedom at the end of life and guarantees terminally ill adults a way out of pain and suffering.

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