The California End Of Life Option Act was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on October 5, 2015. The law authorizes the practice of medical aid in dying, in which mentally capable adults, with six months or less to live, can request a doctor’s prescription for medication that they could decide to take in their final days or weeks to end unbearable suffering and die peacefully. The law will go into effect June 9, 2016.
How do I Access a Prescription?
To qualify for medical aid in dying under California’s law, an individual must be:
- An adult
- Terminally ill
- Given a prognosis of six months or less to live, and
- Mentally capable of making their own healthcare decisions
An individual must also be:
- A resident of California
- Acting voluntarily
- Making an informed decision, which includes being given information about all other end-of-life options
- Informed that they may choose to obtain the aid-in-dying medication but not take it, and
- Capable of self-administering the medication
In addition to these eligibility requirements, those wishing to qualify for a prescription for aid-in-dying medication must follow regulatory requirements, including having at least two doctor visits for medical evaluation and discussion about the request. Therefore, it can take as little as 15 days or as long as three months for a person requesting a prescription to receive it. It’s important that people wishing to use the law talk to their doctor early to make sure they are willing to write a prescription. The following C&C fact sheets contain more comprehensive information about the new law.
Where Can I Learn More?
For California Residents:
For more information on the full range of end-of-life options visit the Compassion & Choices End of-Life-Information Center.