Wednesday, March 30, 2022
In a settlement filed in the U.S. District Court in Portland, the Oregon Health and the Oregon Medical Board "agreed to stop enforcing the residency requirement and to ask Legislature to remove it from the law."
The lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of the residency requirement for the law allowing terminally ill people to receive lethal medication. The lawsuit argued that the residency requirement violated the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause, "which gives Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce, and the Privileges and Immunities Clause, which forbids states from discriminating against citizens from other states in favor of its own citizens." Attorneys for Compassion & Choices also argued that the law is also unfounded because no other portion of their practice is affected by residency requirements.
Advocates have stated that they will use the settlement to press other states with medically assisted suicide laws to also remove their residency requirements.
According to Kevin Diaz, an attorney with Compassion & Choices, the national advocacy group that sued over Oregon's requirement, "[t]his requirement was both discriminatory and profoundly unfair to dying patients at the most critical time of their life. . ."
On the other side, Laura Echevarria, who opposes such laws argues that a residency requirement is necessary to save Oregon from becoming the nation's "assisted suicide tourism capital."
According to attorneys at Compassion & Choices, the residency requirements create obstacles for patients and make their lives even more insufferable. This is especially true for patients in Washington who are seeking assistance in ending their lives. Although Washington has a similar law to Oregon's, it is much harder to find facilities willing to assist due to the large number of hospital beds that are in religiously affiliated health care facilities.
According to Compassion & Choices, the hope is that people will be able to cross state lines in order to receive the help they are seeking, because they legal boundaries like a residency requirement should not cause them to suffer more than they already are.
See Gene Johnson, Oregon ends residency rule for medically assisted suicide, Everything Lubbock, March 28, 2022.