Summary of Proposed Medical Aid in Dying Bill for Arizona

The proposed Arizona medical aid in dying bill would make it legal for a competent adult suffering from a terminal illness to request and obtain prescribed medication that would hasten death in a peaceful, humane and dignified manner. If taken, such medication must be self-administered by ingestion (not by injection or other means). Another person may help to prepare the medication, but may not help to administer it. Any such hastened death is legally not suicide.

To qualify for medical aid in dying, a patient must:

1.  Be an adult (18 years or older).

2.  Be a resident of Arizona.

3.  Be mentally capable of making and communicating health care decisions.

4.  Be diagnosed by both an attending physician and a consulting physician as having a terminal illness deemed to result in death within six months.

5.  Be informed by the attending physician of the diagnosis, the prognosis, the nature of the medication to be prescribed, and other alternatives, including comfort care, hospice care and pain control.

6.  Make an oral request for a prescription for a medication that will hasten death in a humane and dignified manner (such request to be documented in the patient’s medical record).

7.  Submit a request for the medication in writing, witnessed by two people, and in substantially the same form supplied in the statute.

8.  Wait 15 days from the initial oral request before the prescription can be written (this waiting period can be waived if it is deemed that the patient is likely to die within 15 days). 

Additional Provisions

Competency. If the attending or consulting physician believes the patient may have impaired judgment, either physician may refer the patient for a consultation with a psychiatrist or psychologist for a determination as to whether the patient has impaired judgment. If the patient is deemed to have impaired judgment, the prescription may not be written.

Informed Decision. The attending physician must verify that the patient has been informed of the diagnosis, the prognosis, the nature and effects of the medication to be prescribed, and other alternative or concurrent treatment options, including comfort care, hospice care and pain control.

Right to participate or not. Patients can rescind their request for medication at any time. Doctor participation is strictly voluntary—no health care provider is required to write the requested prescription under this statute. Health care facilities may prohibit participating in activities covered by this statute, but if they do not notify health care providers within their facilities of that prohibition in advance, they may not sanction such providers for participating.

Other Advisements. The attending physician shall advise the patient (1) to notify next of kin, although it is not required to notify them, (2) not to take the medication in public, (3) not to take the medication alone, (4) regarding the best methods of taking the medication, and (5) regarding methods of disposing of any unused medication.

Not Suicide. Participation in medical aid in dying is not suicide nor assisted suicide, and cannot affect any insurance policies. The death certificate shall indicate the cause of death as the underlying terminal illness only.

Residency. The patient must provide to the attending physician evidence of Arizona residency by means of any of the following: Leasing or ownership of property, Arizona drivers license or identification card, Arizona voter registration, Arizona state tax return, or other means acceptable to the attending physician.

Interference or coercion: Anyone who falsifies a request for medication, destroys a rescission of a request, or who coerces or exerts undue influence on a patient to request medication under the law commits a Class 2 felony (the only more serious felony is murder).

Witnesses to written request. One witness cannot be a relative of the patient (by blood, marriage or adoption) and cannot be entitled to any portion of the patient’s estate on death. The attending physician cannot be a witness.

Form of written request. The written request shall be in substantially the following form:

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REQUEST FOR a prescription for MEDICATION to

END MY LIFE IN A HUMANE AND DIGNIFIED MANNER

I, ________________, am an adult of sound mind.

I am suffering from ____________, which my attending physician has determined is a terminal illness.

I have been fully informed of my diagnosis, my prognosis, the nature of medication to be prescribed and the feasible alternatives and concurrent or additional treatment opportunities, including comfort care, palliative care, hospice care and pain control.

I request that my attending physician prescribe medication that will end my life in a humane and dignified manner, should I decide to self‑administer it.

I understand the full import of this request and I expect to die when I take the medication to be prescribed.  I further understand that although most deaths occur within three hours, my death may take longer and my attending physician has counseled me about this possibility.

I make this request voluntarily and without reservation.

Signed: ______________________

Dated: _______________________

DECLARATION OF WITNESSES

We declare that the person signing this request:

  1. Is personally known to us or has provided proof of identity.
  2. Signed this request in our presence.
  3. Appears to be of sound mind and to not be under duress, fraud or undue influence.
  4. Is not a patient for whom either of us is the attending physician.

_________________ Witness 1/Date ____________

_________________ Witness 2/Date ____________

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See full text of proposed law.