Monday, November 15, 2021

Aid-in-Dying and the Frustration of a State Border.

The New York Times recently ran this article, For Terminal Patients, the Barrier to Aid in Dying Can Be a State Line.

The article focuses on a doctor in Oregon who sees patients from Washington seeking assistance in dying, which the doctor is unable to provide because of the residency requirement in the statute.  Why are patients from Washington, which has its own aid-in-dying law, seeking the help of a doctor in Oregon? Because, the article notes, "the southwestern region has few providers who can help patients use it."  The doctor in Oregon has filed suit, "claiming that the residency requirement for Oregon’s aid-in-dying law is unconstitutional."  There are also states with legislative efforts to resolve this limitation in the statutes.

New Mexico, the most recent state to enact an aid-in-dying statute, has taken a bit broader approach. "The largely rural state is the first to allow not only doctors but advanced practice registered nurses and physician assistants to help determine eligibility and write prescriptions for lethal medication. “In some communities, they’re the only providers,” said Representative Deborah Armstrong, a Democrat and the bill’s primary sponsor."  Last month, California's governor signed into law changes to that state's statute. "[S]tarting in January ... the 15-day wait between verbal requests[is reduced] to 48 hours and eliminates the requirement for a third written “attestation.”  These changes don't address the residency issue, so we will have to wait for the outcome of the litigation, unless the state legislatures decided to address it. 

As one expert quoted in the article noted, "[t]his is the only medical procedure we can think of that is limited by someone’s ZIP code...."

Advance Directives/End-of-Life, Consumer Information, Current Affairs, Health Care/Long Term Care, State Statutes/Regulations | Permalink


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