SALEM — The Oregon Senate approved legislation June 8 modifying the state’s advance directive, bringing into question the future of end-of-life decisions for Oregonians.
Currently, the default advance directive rule states that health care representatives cannot make life-ending decisions unless the patient gives them that authority. Oregon Right to Life believes that the likely outcome of the advance directive legislation, Senate Bill 494, will change this rule, giving health care representatives life-ending authority unless patients say they cannot.
Proponents of the bill say it’s an update to Oregon’s current advance directive.
“It’s very, very, very important for everyone to understand, no one can be forced to enter into an advance directive,” Oregon Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, said to the Senate chamber June 8. Prozanski carried the bill on the Senate floor.
“This is something that is voluntary that allows for an individual who wants to have the freedom, who wants to direct how they want their life to be respected, how they want to have quality of life at the end of their life cycle and how they would like to have that carried out. Clearly the individual that’s entering into advance directives has the only say as to who is going to be their health care representative.”
A modified version of the legislation passed out of the Senate on a largely party-line vote, 17-13, with most Republicans opposing it. The modifications gave power over approving any new advance directives to the Oregon Legislature. Previous versions of the bill allowed for such changes to be approved by just the Advance Directive Adoption Committee.
“We like the amendments but believe the bill is still fatally flawed,” wrote Todd Cooper, representative for the Oregon Catholic Conference, in an email to the Catholic Sentinel.
Gayle Atteberry, executive director for Oregon Right to Life agrees.
“The approved amendment does not change the fact that the new default gives power to the health care representative to make life-ending decisions for the patient unless explicitly asked not to,” says Attenbery.
The bill has moved to the House and must pass out of the chamber before going to the governor’s desk for final approval.