State Senator Charleta B. Tavares (D–Columbus) will soon introduce legislation that will allow mentally competent Ohioans with a terminal condition to request and self-administer medication to end their life peacefully after meeting a series of requirements. The bill is modeled after similar laws in Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Vermont and Washington DC.
“It is time we recognize the rights of dying and suffering patients to control their own end-of-life decisions,” said Senator Tavares. “Death with Dignity means exactly that: allowing patients to determine the time and manner of their death when they have reached the point where medical care can only keep them alive without the interactions of loved ones that make life worth living.”
To make sure that the patient is in control of the process, a number of conditions have to be met. These include:
- The patient must be diagnosed with a terminal condition by the attending physician
- The patient must make two oral requests and written request dated and signed in the presence of two unrelated adults
- The patient’s physician must inform the patient of all available treatments options
- The patient must request the medication free from any coercion or undue influence
- If the physician suspects the patient may not be able to make their own health care decisions, the patient must be referred for psychological evaluation
- There are two waiting periods – one after the initial verbal request and one after the receipt of the written request by the attending physician
- The patient may opt out at any time
- No health care professional can be forced to participate
- The patient must self-administer the medication
Across the nation, similar laws have led to better care for terminally ill patients, improved access to pain relieving treatments and the quality of hospice care.
“Through my extensive research, I have discovered that in Oregon this law has worked effectively and safely for the past 20 years,” said Senator Tavares. “The Death with Dignity Act is rarely used, and yet today Oregon leads the nation in the number of people who die at home, surrounded by loved ones, and those who receive hospice care and are able to make their own choices at the end of their life. I want to bring this same level of comfort and peace of mind to the people of Ohio.”
Similar laws are currently being considered in Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey and New York.