Friday, June 10, 2016

Death in California isn't the same anymore

The NY Times has the story: Who May Die? California Patients and Doctors Wrestle With Assisted Suicide

"On Thursday, California became the fourth state in the country to put in effect a law allowing assisted suicide for the terminally ill, what has come to be known as aid in dying. Lawmakers here approved the legislation last year, after Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old schoolteacher who had brain cancer, received international attention for her decision to move to Oregon, where terminally ill patients have been allowed to take drugs to die since 1997.
Oregon was the first state to pass an assisted suicide law, and was followed by Washington and Vermont. Under a Montana court ruling, doctors cannot be prosecuted for helping terminally ill patients die, as long as the patient makes a written request. With the California law, 16 percent of the country’s population has a legal option for terminally ill patients to determine the moment of their death, up from 4 percent.
In the states with assisted suicide laws, the number of people who request and take medication to hasten dying has steadily increased. In Oregon, for example, 16 people ended their lives under the law in 1998, and by 2015, that number had grown to 132.
The California legislation is strict, intended to ensure that patients have thought through the decision and are making it voluntarily. Patients must make multiple requests for the medication and have a prognosis of less than six months to live.
Many hospitals have not yet released policies for dealing with the law. And no doctor, health system or pharmacy will be required to comply with a patient’s request. Doctors who object to the practice are not even required to refer patients who request the medication to another physician.
Roman Catholic and other religious health systems have said they will not participate. “We are crossing a line — from being a society that cares for those who are aging and sick to a society that kills those whose suffering we can no longer tolerate,” José H. Gomez, the Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, said in a statement Wednesday."

No comments: