Tuesday, July 4, 2017

California's End of Life Option Act: the first six months

Independence of a sort.
California's End of Life Option Act (aka medically assisted suicide; death with dignity, right to die)  has now been in effect for six months, and the first report on its take-up has been issued.  The LA Times has the story:
111 terminally ill patients took their own lives in first 6 months of California right-to-die law

"A total of 111 people in California took their own lives using lethal prescriptions during the first six months of a law that allows terminally ill people to request life-ending drugs from their doctors, according to data released Tuesday.

"A snapshot of the patients who took advantage of the law mirrors what’s been seen in Oregon, which was the first state to legalize the practice nearly two decades ago. Though California is far more diverse than Oregon, the majority of those who have died under aid-in-dying laws in both states were white, college-educated cancer patients older than 60.

"The End of Life Option Act made California the fifth state in the nation to allow patients with less than six months to live to request end-of-life drugs from their doctors.

"Physician-assisted deaths made up 6 out of every 10,000 deaths in California between June and December 2016, according to state data. That’s much lower than the 2016 rate in Oregon, where lethal prescriptions accounted for 37 per 10,000 deaths.

"But the findings have done little to calm the debate over whether allowing doctors to prescribe lethal medications is acceptable medical practice.
"California’s data show that 173 physicians wrote the 191 prescriptions statewide."

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