By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
I have written on several occasions that the State of Oregon, on March 28, 2022, agreed to remove its residency requirement for assisted suicide enabling anyone to die by assisted suicide in Oregon.
In his recent presentation in Ohio, where assisted suicide is prohibited, Thaddeus Pope, a long-time promoter of euthanasia and assisted suicide, argued that Ohio physicians should inform patients that may qualify, that death by assisted suicide is an option in Oregon.
Recently the Journal of General Internal Medicine (JGIM) published an article by Pope et al. concerning Oregon withdrawing its residency requirement for assisted suicide. In his JGIM article Pope explains:
In Gideonse v. Brown, an Oregon physician challenged the constitutionality of Oregon’s residency requirement in federal court. Rather than defend its law, Oregon settled the case with a promise to eliminate the requirement, thus making MAiD [Medical Assistance in Dying] available to patients anywhere in the USA or the world. In this article, we discuss the lawsuit and its settlement.
Pope examines the crux of the Gideonse v. Brown case:
Dr. Gideonse claimed that the residency requirement “prevents him from providing his non-resident patients with care consistent with his best medical judgment at one of the most important moments in their lives.” He also noted that MAiD was “the only medical procedure in [his] day to day practice where a patient’s lack of Oregon residency status categorically denies the otherwise appropriate care he can provide them.
Pope further explained that Gideonse argued that Oregon’s assisted suicide law residency requirement violated the federal constitution in two ways. First that it prevented Gideonse from providing medical care to non-residents but secondly that it restricted interstate commerce. The crux of the issue is the question of whether or not assisted suicide is a medical treatment.
I contend that assisted suicide is not a medical act. Assisting a suicide offers no medical benefit and it doesn’t require a medical practitioner to participate, even though the Oregon law requires physicians to participate.
Pope then explains the response of the Oregon Health Authority:
Rather than respond to the merits of these claims, surprisingly on March 28, 2022, the state of Oregon settled for reasons that have not been reported. The state agreed to “not apply or otherwise enforce the residency requirement in the Act” and that at the next regular legislative session, the Oregon Health Authority will submit a “legislative concept that would repeal the residency requirement.”
Pope then mentions, as I reported, that a similar case was launched on August 26, 2022 challenging Vermont’s assisted suicide residency requirement.
Pope continues his article by explaining that even though the State of Oregon has made assisted suicide available to out-of-state persons the issue is not settled. He questions whether states that prohibit assisted suicide might restrict residents from receiving information about assisted suicide or prohibit referrals for assisted suicide:
These states might respond either by using existing criminal prohibitions on assisted suicide to prosecute or by otherwise prohibiting instate activities related to MAiD such as helping the patient travel to Oregon or helping prepare the medications for ingestion upon return from Oregon. States might also prohibit referrals for MAiD or even providing of information about this option.
Pope concludes his article by suggesting that the Supreme Court will need to decide the issue.
I am convinced that the issue hinges on the question of whether or not assisted suicide is a medical treatment. Even if the State of Oregon defines assisted suicide as medical care that does not mean that other states will define assisted suicide as medical care. If it is not medical care then doctors do not have to inform or refer their patients for assisted suicide in Oregon.
What about conscience rights?
Assisted suicide is prohibited in most states because it constitutes an act to intentionally cause the death of another person. It is about killing another person. Whether it is legal or not, no one should be forced to participate in killing another person.
Editor’s note. This appeared on Mr. Schadenberg’s blog and is reposted with permission,