California Right-to-Die Law Saw 111 People Kill Themselves in First Six Months

Debbie Ziegler mother of Brittany Maynard speaks to the media after the passage of legislation which would allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives at the state Capitol in Sacramento Calif. C
California State Data on End of Life Option Act Confirms It is Working Well
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01 July, 2017

The state's End of Life Option Act - which went into effect on June 9, 2016 - permits patients whose doctors say they have less than six months to live to request life-ending drugs from their doctors, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Since California's right-to-die law was enacted, 258 individuals began the "end-of-life option process", according to the state's report, which requires two verbal requests to their physicians at least 15 days apart. According to the report, only 111 of them took the pills by the end of the reporting period in December.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released the 2016 End of Life Option Act (Act) first Annual Report.

In this first report, for the partial year June 9 - December 31, 2016, 191 individuals received aid-in-dying drugs under the EOLA, and 111 people died following ingestion of the prescribed drugs.

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OR was the first state to enact "right-to-die" legislation in 1997, according to the Associated Press.

Matt Whitaker, the state director of the group Compassion & Choices, said the statistics show California's new law is working as it should. The Department of Public Health must gather information on those who take or seek taking these aid-in-dying drugs.

"Any unused drug that is prescribed for aid in dying has to be returned in person to either the pharmacy where it was purchased to be destroyed or to another (government-designated) place where it can be destroyed", said Bob Davila, a spokesman for the California State Board of Pharmacy, told the Sacramento Bee. More than 94 percent of the patients had health insurance, including 57 percent on Medicare, Medicaid or California's Medi-Cal program.

California is 1 of 6 states where medical aid in dying is authorized - Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - along with the District of Columbia that represent 18 percent of the nation's population. Alexandra Snyder, an attorney with Life Legal Defense Foundation, said the data did not show whether the patients were suffering from depression or coerced into taking the drugs by doctors. The report noted that 173 physicians prescribed lethal drugs to 191 patients past year.


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