X-Message-Number: 11609
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 1999 09:25:26 -0700
From: David Brandt-Erichsen <>
Subject: Re: about assisted termination (in Oregon and elsewhere)

At 05:00 AM 4/24/99 -0400, Thomas Donaldson wrote:

>As I understand the situation in Oregon, despite the fact that the
>legislature passed a law allowing assisted death, state officials have 
>done everything they could to prevent it from coming into force. At
>present those efforts have succeeded. 

I do not believe this assessment is correct.  The law has been in force for
some time now, and about 15 people have utilized it so far.  It appears to
be working quite well.  The only thing is that you have to hunt fairly hard
for a willing doctor since there are considerable pressures on doctors not
to participate.  There are organizations such as the Hemlock Society and
Compassion for Dying that can help find sympathetic doctors, however (but
not necessarily sympathetic to cryonics).

>When Oregon passed its law, there were also people in the US Congress
>who suggested that euthanasia might be prohibited by a Federal law. This
>would at best cause lots of constitutional controversy, at worst actually

This is still a danger, but the bill that was introduced was pretty much
stalled and there is no immediate danger.  Even the AMA opposed this bill.
This could still happen, though.

>Finally I will observe that a law allowing assisted termination will
>(we HOPE) also allow cryonic suspensions prior to declaration of death.
>However a very great deal depends on the exact conditions the law 
>prescribes for legal assisted termination.

Yes.  Cryonicists need to proceed with caution also.  Doing a cryonic
suspension in conjunction with a legal assisted suicide may bring much
unwanted attention from officials who might question the whole thing and
perhaps want to do an autopsy even if things were well documented.
Possible attendant publicity would probably be good for cryonics in terms
of membership growth, but may also possibly produce a backlash against the
law that allowed it.  I think we should take such risks and proceed with a
controlled suspension when the opportunity arises, but it needs to be done
carefully with a good foundation and in waters that are fairly well-tested
by non-cryonicists first.

There are some amendments to the Oregon law currently working their way
through the Oregon legislature which I have not reported on so far because
I have not yet been able to obtain any legal opinions on their import, and
part of the amendments are very unclear to me at this point.  Some of them
could have a severe impact on any possible cryonic suspension, but as I
said I am not clear on this yet.

One of the significant changes involves the residency requirement.  The law
requires that only Oregon residents are eligible, but does not define what
is a resident.  The changes purport to clear this up, and to prevent
non-residents from utilizing the law, but I am not at all sure they succeed
in this.  Here is the wording:

[ - = language removed, + = language added]

>   { +  (12) 'Resident' means a person domiciled in Oregon. + }


>  127.860. s3.10. Residency requirement. Only requests made by
>Oregon residents  { - , - }  under ORS 127.800 to 127.897
> { - , - }  shall be granted.  { + Factors demonstrating Oregon
>residency include but are not limited to:
>  (1) Possession of an Oregon driver license;
>  (2) Registration to vote in Oregon;
>  (3) Evidence that the person owns or leases property in Oregon;
>  (4) Filing of an Oregon tax return for the most recent tax
>year. + }

So, what is the legal definition of "domiciled"?  How does this clarify
things?  Presumably, any one of the four things listed would qualify you.
Registering to vote in Oregon takes 30 days.  Evidence of leasing property
could presumably be obtained in a single day -- this doesn't seem to be the
intent, but seems to be the result.  Whether "renting" as opposed to
"leasing" would qualify is also left unclear.  

Perhaps the most serious change from a cryonics standpoint is an item that
were it not for cryonics would not be considered significant, but for us is
very significant.  It reads as follows:

>  127.815. s3.01. Attending physician responsibilities. The
>attending physician shall:
>  (12) Notwithstanding any other law, complete and sign the
>patient's death certificate. + }

Finding a doctor who would be willing to prescribe the lethal medication
and also be willing and available to sign the death certificate immediately
would be a significant problem if this passes.  And there is not likely to
be any significant opposition to this clause.

The third significant change is that a psychological evaluation would be
required rather than only if the physician deems it necessary.  The other
changes I do not deem significant.  I will report on the progress of these

>We should never forget that those
>who are in favor of this law either know nothing at all about cryonics,
>or consider it either worthless or morally wrong. Such people cannot be
>depended on to write a law useful for us.

Very true, as in the case regarding the death certificate above, which is
probably not significant to anybody else.  

In the case of Alcor's home state of Arizona, however, there is a
cryonicist in the inner circles of those drafting a right-to-die initiative
for the year 2002.  Namely, me.  However, my influence is certainly limited
by political realities.  For example, it just is not politically feasible
to have any right-to-die legislation that does not limit residency, so I
cannot really have any influence on this question except perhaps to make
the requirement less stringent if I'm lucky.  It is just not possible to
get a really good law at this time.  An Oregon-type law is the best we can
hope for.

We almost had an initiative in Arizona in the year 2000, but the big-donor
money necessary to carry out such a task was already committed to Maine,
which will definitely have an initiative in 2000.  The outcome of that will
have a big effect on plans for Arizona in 2002.


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