Frequently Asked Questions

What is Medical Aid in Dying for the terminally ill?

Medical aid in dying (MAID) is the legal option (though not yet in Ohio) in which a mentally capable and terminally ill adult with less than six months to live may request and obtain a prescription medication that will end their life. The process to obtain the prescription is strict with multiple safeguards. After obtaining the prescription a person may ingest the medication to die peacefully at the time and place that they choose.

How Does Medical Aid in Dying Differ from Euthanasia?

With medical aid in dying, the terminally ill person must take the medication themselves unaided and therefore, always remains in charge. Euthanasia is illegal in the United States and requires another person to administer the medication.

Can’t people end their lives with a gun or drugs if they want to die?

Dying people at times use stockpiled or illicit drugs or violence against themselves. This is cruel to the dying person and their family and friends who are left traumatized and often wonder why they could not have had the compassionate option of medical aid in dying. As an example of this, read Ohioan Ann Schuur’s powerful story about her father and why she advocates for a Medical Aid in Dying law:

Opinion: Give terminally ill more options by passing a medical aid in dying law, April 20, 2022

For health care practitioners who want to learn more:

Go to the American Clinicians Academy on Medical Aid in Dying and read its free online Journal of Aid-in-Dying Medicine.

What’s Wrong with Referring to Medical Aid in Dying as “Physician-Assisted Suicide?”

A person who seeks medical aid in dying has a terminal prognosis of six months or less to live. They are voluntarily hastening their imminent death from disease. In legal terms, medical aid in dying is not considered suicide—in any form—in the jurisdictions with a medical aid in dying law.

The term “medical aid in dying” is the accepted language used in the healthcare and legal communities. It best defines the process in objective and respectful language.

Should we be worried that some might try to coerce sick, elderly, or disabled people to use medical aid in dying?

No. In the many years of experience with medical aid in dying in states where it is authorized, there has not been a single substantiated accusation of abuse or coercion.

Medical aid-in-dying laws make it a felony to coerce someone to request the medication or to forge a request. Under existing laws, two physicians must certify that the person’s request is informed and free of undue influence or coercion, and two witnesses who personally know the dying person must attest that the person is making a voluntary, informed decision and without undue influence or coercion.

Only the dying person may self¬-administer the medication; administration of the medication by any other person is a felony.

What safeguards are in place to protect patients?

• Patients must meet stringent eligibility requirements, including being an adult, state resident (everywhere but Oregon and Vermont), mentally competent, and having a terminal diagnosis with a 6-month prognosis as confirmed by two licensed physicians.
• Only the patient can make the requests for medication. It is impossible to stipulate the request in an advance directive, living will, or any other end-of-life care document.
• The patient must make two oral requests.
• The written request must be witnessed by at least two people, who, in the presence of the patient, attest that to the best of their knowledge and belief the patient is capable, acting voluntarily, and is not being coerced to sign the request. One of the witnesses cannot be a relative of the patient by blood, marriage or adoption; anyone who would be entitled to any portion of the patient’s estate; an owner, operator or employee of a health care facility where the eligible patient is receiving medical treatment or is a resident or the patient’s attending physician.
• The patient must be deemed capable to take (self-administer and ingest) the medication themselves, without assistance.
• The patient may rescind the request at any time.
• If either physician determines the patient may be suffering from a psychiatric or psychological disorder or depression causing impaired judgment, they must refer the patient for evaluation by a state-licensed psychiatrist or psychologist to determine their mental competency. Medication cannot be prescribed until such evaluation determines the patient is mentally competent.
• Anyone who falsifies a request, destroys a rescission of a request, or coerces or exerts undue influence on a patient to request medication under the law or to destroy a rescission of such a request commits a Class A felony. The law also does not limit liability for negligence or intentional misconduct, and criminal penalties also apply for conduct that is inconsistent with it.

How does using a death with dignity law impact my health and life insurance?

Physician-assisted death statutes do not specify who must pay for the services. Individual insurers determine whether the procedure is covered under their policies, just as they do with any other medical procedure. Federal funding, including Medicare and the federally funded portion of Medicaid, cannot be used for services or medications received under these laws. State-funded portions of Medicaid may cover medications. One must inquire to find this out.
Physician aid in dying statutes specifies that participation under them is not suicide. Therefore, the decision to use a medical aid in dying law to die peacefully does not affect life or accident insurance or annuity policy.

Are you the only organization currently advocating on behalf of the terminally ill for a law in Ohio?

Yes. Ohio End of Life Options is the only active organization raising awareness and providing education programs virtually and in person in all eighty-eight counties. At the Statehouse in Columbus, Ohio we actively communicate with legislators to provide accurate and transparent facts about medical aid in dying.

How are you funded?

Ohio End of Life Options is a 501c3 that is 100% privately funded by supporters and foundations who want to advocate on behalf of the terminally ill to pass a medical aid in dying law in Ohio. We do not receive any government funding.

How can I donate to Ohio End of Life Options?

Thank you for asking, it is very easy to donate right here on our website.

Please contact Lisa Vigil Schattinger, MSN, RN, Founder and Executive Director for information on donating stocks, mutual funds, and annuities. She can also assist with legacy gifts from a will or trust.

Where can I find information on how to access medical aid in dying in the United States?

Two national medical aid in dying organizations provide additional information for patients and families about the process in the states that have made medical aid in dying legal. Click to visit their websites for more information.

Death with Dignity National Center

Compassion and Choices