Oregon is one of the few states in the United States where medically assisted suicide is allowed. Up until just recently, anyone wanting to legally end their life had to meet a significant number of requirements, including being a resident of that state. Now, though, the residency rule has ended. The reason behind the change is that interstate commerce was being restricted if people were unable to travel from other states to seek a legal service in the state of Oregon.
The argument was that the US Constitution was being violated by the requirement that a person be a resident. Since Oregon has now changed their requirements, the goal is to pursue the same change in other states where medically assisted suicide is legal. The Privileges and Immunities Clause of the US Constitution forbids states from favoring their own citizens over the citizens of other states, when it comes to commerce. At its heart, medical suicide is a service, and therefore subject to commerce laws.
Those who are against this change in the law argue that it will lead to a “medical tourism” issue for Oregon, where people from all over the country will come to the state when they want to legally end their life. Washington State, Oregon’s neighbor to the north, has a similar law, but it’s very hard to locate facilities where the medical assistance can be provided. Without the residency requirement in Oregon, Washington residents can now travel a short distance to have their final wishes addressed.
With the change in the law, people who are already suffering and struggling as they reach the end of their life will be able to choose when they want their life to end, instead of being forced to live longer regardless of the pain or mental anguish they may be experiencing. It remains to be seen how much this changes the number of people seeking this service in Oregon, or the way other states address the issue.
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