Terminally Ill End Their Lives Under California Law

Posted July 01, 2017

Ray Perman of Piedmont, who used California's end of life option in February 2016 with his daughter, Andrea Witherell. While 111 people took the medicine and died, 191 prescriptions were actually written, which means 80 people had a change of heart or circumstances changed in some way.

A little more than 75 percent of those who died were between the ages of 60 to 89. Among those patients, 111 took the drugs and died. The 111 individuals were among the 191 people who received prescriptions for life-ending drugs. Most were receiving hospice, had health insurance and were college educated. The median age was 73, and majority of the patients had been diagnosed with terminal cancer.

California's End of Life Option Act became effective in June 2016 and allows adults living in California to obtain and self-administer drugs that help end their lives, according to the California Department of Health (CDPH). However, the number of deaths from doctor-prescribed lethal drugs was just 16 in the first year of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act and has been on an upward trend since.

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Oregon, became the first to adopt similar legislation in 1997, and US doctor-assisted deaths are now legal in Colorado, Montana, Vermont, Washington and Washington, D.C., according to AP.

The new law made the Golden State the fifth state in the country to allow certain patients to request life-ending drugs from their doctors. The outcomes of the remaining 59 people were not reported by doctors within the six-month period.

"The state's data show that even during the early months of the law's implementation, the law was working well and terminally ill Californians were able to take comfort in knowing that they had this option to peacefully end intolerable suffering", said Compassion & Choices California State Director Matt Whitaker. "We had to move to OR for her to have a gentle passing", Diaz said. Also, he was diagnosed with colon cancer, and realized his body won't let him continue with his life the way he was used to.