Oregon Case Study
Nineteen years after implementation, the Oregon experience with medical aid in dying demonstrates it is a safe and trusted medical practice that benefits people with terminal illnesses and their families. Nearly two decades of rigorously studied and documented experience in the state show that the law has worked as intended and none of the abuses predicted by those opposed to the measure have come to pass. Furthermore, research indicates that one of the greatest benefits of the law is providing peace of mind for the terminally ill,¹ so they can focus on living the life they have left to the fullest.
The most recent Oregon Department of Human Services report on aid in dying shows that all Oregonians who used the law in 2014 met the requirements of the law including:
- Diagnosed with a terminal illness and prognosis of six months or less to live,
- Determined to be mentally capable and;
- Made repeated voluntary requests for an aid in dying prescription.
Additionally, the following was reported:
- Vulnerable populations, such as low-income people, minorities or people with disabilities, were not adversely impacted in any manner.
End-of-life care has improved overall since the law went into effect. This is due in part to the dialogue that medical aid in dying encourages between people and their doctors, better palliative care training for physicians and more hospice referrals. Oregon’s rates of hospice use – generally embraced as an indicator of quality of end-of-life care – are among the highest in the nation.
¹ Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, “Oregon’s experience in with aid in dying: findings from the death with dignity laboratory,” Barbara Coombs Lee, July 2014, 5.
² Oregon Public Health Division, Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act-2014,Page 4, Table 1, “End of life care.”
³ Oregon Public Health Division, Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act-2014,Page 5, Table 1, “DWDA process.”
⁴ Oregon Public Health Division, Oregon’s Death With Dignity Act-2014,Page 5, Table 1, “DWDA process.”