Summary of Proposed Medical Aid in Dying Law for Arizona
The proposed Arizona medical aid in dying law (SB1646 and identical HB2583) 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 and a consulting physician as having a terminal illness deemed to result in death within six months.
5. Be informed by the attending health care provider 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). The request may be made via telemedicine.
7. Wait 15 days from the initial oral request and submit a request for the medication in writing, witnessed by two people, and in substantially the same form supplied in the statute. The waiting period can be waived if it is deemed that the patient is likely to die within 15 days.
Competency. If the attending or consulting provider believes the patient may have impaired judgment, either provider may refer the patient for a consultation with a psychiatrist, psychologist, or psychiatric nurse practitioner 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 provider 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 provider 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 provider 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 provider.
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 or consulting provider cannot be a witness.
Form of written request. The written request shall be in substantially the following form:
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 provider has determined is a terminal illness.
I have been fully informed of my diagnosis, my prognosis, the potential risks associated with taking the medication to be prescribed and the probable result of taking the medication. I have been informed of the feasible alternatives and concurrent or additional treatment opportunities, including comfort care, palliative care, hospice care, pain control and disease-directed treatment options, as well as the risks and benefits of each alternative.
I request that my attending provider prescribe medication that will end my life in a humane and dignified manner, should I choose 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 provider has counseled me about this possibility.
I make this request voluntarily and without reservation.