An advance directive is a set of instructions that explain the specific health care measures a person wants if he or she should have a terminal illness or injury and become incapable of indicating whether to continue curative and life-sustaining treatment, or to remove life support systems. The person must develop the advance directive while he or she is able to clearly and definitively express him or herself verbally, in writing, or in sign language. It must express the person’s own free will regarding their health care, not the will of anyone else. It does not affect routine care for cleanliness and comfort, which must be given whether or not there is an advance directive.
In Oregon, the Health Care Decisions Act (ORS 127.505 – 127.660 and ORS 127.995) allows an individual to pre-authorize health care representatives to allow the natural dying process if he or she is medically confirmed to be in one of the conditions described in his or her health care instructions. This Act does not authorize euthanasia, assisted suicide or any overt action to end the person’s life.