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Doctor in Oregon offers suicide meds to out-of-state patients: 'The end-of-life care they deserve'
Screenshot of Oregon Health & Sciences University website

Doctor in Oregon offers suicide meds to out-of-state patients: 'The end-of-life care they deserve'

A medical doctor in Oregon has become the new "Dr. Death," now that he has begun discussing suicide drugs with those who live in other states, and many pro-life advocates fear that the nascent "death tourism" industry in Oregon may soon spread elsewhere.

In 1997, Oregon passed the "Death with Dignity Act," permitting medical doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients who meet certain criteria. According to pro-assisted-suicide group End of Life Choices, qualified patients must: be at least 18 years old, have a terminal illness and less than six months to live, be deemed "capable" of making personal decisions, and have the ability to administer the suicide drugs to themselves. However, at the time, the state restricted access to assisted suicide to Oregon residents only.

But one Portland doctor has changed all of that. Last March, Dr. Nicholas Gideonse, a 62-year-old "family medicine" doctor with supposed specialties in maternity and obstetric care at Oregon Health & Science University, settled a lawsuit with the state to end the residency restrictions, thereby creating a pathway for prospective patients in other states to acquire suicide drugs from him, so long as they spend at least 15 days in the state first.

"The last thing my dying patients needed," Gideonse said after the settlement was announced, "was to have to find a new doctor during their final days so that they could get the end-of-life care they deserve, just because they happened to live" in Washington state.

But Gideonese is now extending his reach beyond Washington state to the entire country. Though Oregon law will not officially allow out-of-state patients to receive so-called end-of-life care there until later this year, Gideonse has already shared publicly that he has begun "material" conversations with those in other states who suffer from a terminal illness.

Last October, during a Zoom session for the fall conference of the Completed Life Initiative, Gideonse announced that he had spoken with a man from Texas who had a diagnosis of ALS, better known as Lou Gehrig's disease. Gideonse did not give details regarding that patient's case or outcome but stated that he receives calls from similar patients in other states "every couple of weeks."

Though Gideonse and his fellow panelists were enthusiastic about new "interstate access to medical aid-in-dying," Matt Vallière, the executive director of the Patients Rights Action Fund, which opposes physician-assisted suicide, stated that these changes in regulations regarding assisted suicide and state residency will lead to chaos since many patients who receive the drugs prefer to ingest them in their own homes. "You end up in this Wild West scenario where people take the drugs back to their home states," Vallière alleged, "and there are a lot more questions than there are answers about what would happen after that."

Others have expressed concerns that other states like Vermont, which have recently legalized physician-assisted suicide, will soon begin luring people to seek "end-of-life care," even if they do not have a terminal illness. So-called "medical assistance in dying" laws in Canada have already induced those with mental illness and those who fear social woes, like poverty and homelessness, to consider ending their lives.

"Many view these laws as a danger to people with serious illnesses, chronic conditions, and significant disabilities in our cost-conscious healthcare system," said Diane Coleman, president of Not Dead Yet, a group which also opposes physician-assisted suicide.

But Gideonse sees no difference in prescribing lethal drugs to patients and treating other medical conditions. In fact, he even compared assisted suicide to "delivering babies." "In no other way is my practice restricted to Oregon residents," he said last year, "whether that’s delivering babies in the past or other care that I provide."

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Cortney Weil

Cortney Weil

Sr. Editor, News

Cortney Weil is a senior editor for Blaze News.
@cortneyweil →