Patients Have Died Under CA Right-to-Die Law

Posted July 01, 2017

The End of Life Option Act made California the fifth state in the U.S.to allow terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to request life-ending prescriptions from their doctors. The data showed that 191 prescriptions had been written, so 80 people had not taken the drugs at the time of the survey.

A little more than 75 percent of those who died were between the ages of 60 to 89. The 111 individuals were among the 191 people who received prescriptions for life-ending drugs. They found that 111 adults took the life-ending drugs so far.

The End of Life Option Act was passed in California shortly after Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old newlywed who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, had to move from San Francisco to OR with her husband so she could die with dignity in November 2014.

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A snapshot of the patients who took advantage of the law mirrors what's been seen in OR, which was the first state to legalize the practice almost two decades ago.

Since then, 111 people have taken the legal drugs and ended their lives, according to a report released on Tuesday, the first since the law went into effect.

OR adopted the law in 1997. According to the law, seriously ill people could demand life-threatening drugs to doctors in order to end up their lives.

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Christian Burkin, spokesperson for California Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman, said that the data may be limited, but the numbers show that the End of Life Option Act is being implemented the way Eggman and other authors of the law intended it to work. Most were receiving hospice, had health insurance and were college educated.

In 2016, California became the sixth state to enact a "right-to-die" or physician-assisted suicide law (Washington, D.C. also has one in place).

Compassion & Choices is the oldest nonprofit working to improve care and expand options for the end of life in the United States, with 450,000 members nationwide. Each year, on or before July 1, the Department of Public Health must provide prescribed information on those who sought and used aid-in-dying drugs.

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