The Oregon Legislature recommends a yes vote on Measure 51, which would repeal Measure 16, the 1994 assisted suicide law. Information not available in 1994 which casts doubt on the effectiveness of Measure 16 combined with concern about the inadequacies of the so-called safeguards are the reasons for the recommendation.

Measure 16 permits only the use of lethal drugs for assisted suicide. However, research from the Netherlands and elsewhere (including statements of assisted suicide supporters) indicate that pills alone are not reliable in causing death. As many as 25% of all assisted suicides that rely on pills alone fail, requiring a lethal injection to 'complete' the suicide. Measure 16 prohibits the use of lethal injection, leaving the patient in those cases to experience agonizing, lingering death.

The Legislature also found flaws which presented major difficulties of either 'fixing' or implementing Measure 16.

No Mandatory Counseling. Measure 16 does not require a patient receive mental health counseling. This would permit a depressed person to take his or her own life. Most physicians are not trained to detect depression.

No Mandatory Family Notification. Many families would be devastated to find their loved one had requested assisted-suicide--too late.

No Strong Reporting Requirements. Physicians may not indicate on the death certificate that a death was an assisted suicide. There is no enforceable requirement for physicians to report their assisted suicides to the Oregon Health Division. All records are barred from public review.

No Strong Residency Requirements. Measure 16 does not define the term 'resident' and Oregon lacks a uniform definition of residency. A flood of people coming from other states could create a variety of problems, including the possible costs for the disposal of bodies.

For these and other reasons, the Legislature believes the voters of this state should repeal Measure 16. We urge the voters of this state to reject this flawed and inadequate law by casting a yes vote for Measure 51.

Committee Members: Appointed by:
Senator Eileen Qutub President of the Senate
Representative Lane Shetterly Speaker of the House
Representative Charles Starr Speaker of the House
(This Joint Legislative Committee appointed to provide legislative argument in support of the ballot measure pursuant to ORS 251.245.)

Measure 51

Explanatory Statement

Arguments in Favor

Arguments in Opposition

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