|November 5, 2018
Signatures being Collected for Citizen Initiated Proposal on Physician Assisted Death
A political action committee has been established which has already gathered about 9,000 of the more than 60,000 signatures required to place a citizen initiated proposal on the ballot. The number of signatures required will be 10 percent of the gubernatorial vote on Tuesday. In an article published in the Portland Press Herald last week, it was reported that the proponents of the measure will have more than 130 volunteers at 100 polling places on Tuesday.
Proponents of the measure expressed frustration that the legislature has defeated similar proposals repeatedly, although in the past four years a physician assisted-death proposal has been enacted in the House and come within a vote of passing the Senate; however, these votes were seen as somewhat symbolic as Governor LePage had stated his strong opposition to the bill. Seven states and the District of Columbia authorize such action when a patient has less than six months to live with Vermont being the only state in New England with such a law.
The Oregon law was the first in the nation authorizing a terminally ill patient to ask their physician to write a lethal prescription. Since the law went into effect more than 20 years ago, nearly 2000 people received such a prescription with 1,275 patients having died from taking the medication, according to February 2018 report by the Oregon Health Authority.
A survey of MMA members taking during the course of the 128th Legislature revealed that members were equally divided in their support and opposition to the proposal. Based largely upon that division, the Association withdrew its opposition and took a neutral position on the bill which was not enacted. In the year 2000, a previous publicly initiated referendum was defeated by voters and in that election Association took an active role in opposition to the proposal. The Association currently has a work group reviewing the issue. Charles Pattavina, M.D., immediate past president of MMA, chairs the working group.
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