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Oregon lawsuit leads to removal of the residency requirement

On March 28, a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act reached a settlement in the U.S. District Court in Portland, Oregon. Result: Oregon will no longer require terminally ill patients to be residents of the state to access their Death with Dignity law.

Role of RTD Societies

The lawsuit was filed in October on behalf of Dr. Nicholas Gideonse, a Portland physician. Gideonse was working with the nonprofit organization Compassion & Choices that advocates for end-of-life care.

Our member society Death with Dignity thinks every state should start this process and follow Oregon’s lead. DWD spokesperson George Eighmey: “This could positively impact thousands of terminally ill patients across the country.”

Legal question

Dr Gideonse and RTD Society Compassion & Choices sued the state’s governor, attorney general, Multnomah County’s district attorney and state health officials. They contended that restricting the right to die by state lines violated Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act and the U.S. Constitution. The premise of the lawsuit was that patients can travel to Oregon for every other kind of medical treatment without being a resident, so why are patients prohibited from traveling there for Death with Dignity? In settling the case, both the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Medical Board have asked the Legislature to remove the residency requirement from their existing Death with Dignity law.

Meaning of the lawsuit and the settlement

After 25 years of experience in Oregon, the end of the residency requirement removes part of the burden for dying patients seeking this option. It means qualified patients can now choose their doctor. It means peace of mind. It ensures a better death for so many people.

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Below you find the lawsuit and the settlement: