Articles Tagged with assisted suicide

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shutterstock_265887227On October 5, 2015, Governor Brown signed the End of Life Option Act into law. The law requires that two doctors determine that a patient has six months or less to live before the lethal drugs can be prescribed. Patients also must be mentally competent to make medical decisions and be able to swallow the medication themselves and must affirm in writing, 48 hours before taking the medication, that they will do so.

But the law, when passed, wasn’t to become effective until 91 days after the adjournment of a special legislative session on health care, and no one knew exactly when that was going to happen. Now we do.  That session ended on March 10, 2016, which means that the law will be effective as of June 9, 2016.

Since this is a new law and a new policy for the state, it is going to take time for both the public and doctors to fully understand how the process is going to work and what the legal requirements are for compliance.

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shutterstock_265887227In October, California became one of five states to permit medical aid in dying with the passage of the End of Life Option Act. The bill is modeled after one passed in Oregon in 1997.

Governor Brown signed the bill, with a signing statement that said, in part, “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

The bill allows doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill patients who are expected to live six months or less. A patient must make two oral requests, at least 15 days apart, and one written request, signed in front of two witnesses. The signer must have the capacity to understand what they are requesting, the request must be voluntary, and a physician has to discuss feasible alternatives that would also be available to the patient.

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yellow-sunflower-403172_640For the first time since 2007, legislation has been introduced in this year’s State Senate that would legalize physician-assisted suicide in California. The bill, SB 128,  The End of Life Option Act, is modeled on Oregon’s Right to Die law. It allows a person with a terminal disease and a prognosis of death within six months to obtain a physician’s prescription for a lethal dose of medication.

Two doctors would have to agree that the patient meets certain criteria, such as mental competence, that they’ve been made aware of alternatives, and that they be able to take the dose without help.  There’s a fifteen-day waiting period and doctors who don’t want to write that prescription can opt out. A patient can change their mind at any time. California’s law has two different provisions from Oregon’s law: it requires a translator for non-English speaking patients and pharmacists are given legal immunity for participating in these deaths.

There are currently only three states that permit physician-assisted death laws: Oregon, Vermont, and Washington and court-rulings make the procedure available in New Mexico and Montana. According to the San Jose Mercury News, 12 other states have introduced right to die legislation.