Oregon weighs nixing residency requirement for euthanasia, officially opening door for suicide tourism
Oregon lawmakers are weighing a bill to officially repeal the residency requirement for patients to seek physician-assisted suicide in the state.
House Bill 2279, which was requested last year by now-former Democratic Gov. Kate Brown, repeals the residency requirement in the Death with Dignity Act and would allow adults from prohibitionist states who are suffering from terminal illnesses to seek physician-assisted suicide in Oregon.
The bill is a result of the settlement of a March 2022 lawsuit filed against Brown and other state officials by Dr. Nicholas Gideonse, an Oregon physician who claimed the residency requirement violated the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of equal treatment.
As part of the settlement, state agencies agreed to no longer enforce the residency requirement in the Death with Dignity Act, which was enacted in 1997. Oregon HB 2279 would codify the change.
‘House Bill 2279 is an expansion on what is already a dangerous law, couched as a solution to a problem that doesn’t even exist,’ Lois Anderson, the executive director of Oregon Right to Life, told Fox News Digital.
‘It is little more than the bullying of the Oregon Legislature by former Governor Kate Brown—assisted suicide’s champion—and the courts,’ Anderson said. ‘Our elected officials should be working to improve the lives of Oregonians, not scheming to end the lives of others.’
The bill, which was introduced on Jan. 9 and currently has no legislative sponsors, had a public hearing in the House Behavioral Health and Health Care Committee on Jan. 23.
Amitai Heller, the senior staff attorney for Compassion & Choices, the non-profit that represented Gideonse in his lawsuit, took time during the hearing ‘to recognize the Attorney General, the Department of Health, the Medical Board and Multnomah County DA, who are willing to expeditiously resolve the lawsuit in order to ensure that no further patients had their care interrupted because of what side of the state border they lived on.’
‘Now the Oregon Legislature has an opportunity to provide clarity and certainty by permanently resolving the issue,’ he said.
Gideonse also spoke at the hearing, lamenting that he couldn’t provide physician-assisted suicide for many of his patients who reside in Southwest Washington.
‘There should not be an artificial barrier that comes between me and my existing patients or future patients who happen to reside out of state,’ he said.
Roger Martin, a lobbyist for the Oregon Catholic Conference, spoke out against the bill at the hearing.
‘Do we really want Oregon to become the suicide leader in the world?’ he asked.
Brad Dennis, an Oregon resident, also objected to the bill, arguing that the Oregon legislature ‘should be addressing issues that pertain to Oregon citizens and not making rules for the benefit of those living outside of our state.’
‘I’m opposed to creating a tourism death bill. We should not be known as the death magnet of the world,’ he said at the hearing.
If passed, the bill could have repercussions in more than a half dozen other blue states and Washington, D.C. that have euthanasia laws with residency requirements.