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California’s End of Life Option Act Is Law; C&C Works to Ensure Access

Bill co-sponsor Bill Monning and late supporter Christy O'Donnell celebrate bill passage

Bill co-sponsor Sen. Bill Monning and late supporter Christy O’Donnell celebrate bill passage

Medical aid in dying is now available to terminally ill adults in California, as the End of Life Option Act took effect June 9. Compassion & Choices led the strategic yearlong campaign to pass the law. And the organization initiated its California Access Campaign in January – even prior to the law’s effective date —  to ensure all Californians and state healthcare providers are aware of the option and can access needed services.

“June 9 was a monumental day for Californians suffering from terminal diseases,” said Matt Whitaker, California state director for Compassion & Choices. “It was monumental for the nation, as well, because we believe the changes in California will impact healthcare nationwide.”

The statewide, bilingual California Access Campaign educates terminally ill Californians, families and medical providers about the benefits and requirements of the new law. C&C is partnering with and providing technical assistance to medical centers, hospice facilities, community health centers and nonprofit organizations to ensure Californians understand that medical aid in dying is a trusted medical practice and legitimate end-of-life care option. Watch the video.

Detailed information is extremely easy to obtain for California residents, physicians and pharmacists:

The enormity of the law’s impact is measurable partially in the number of people it will reach: 12 percent of terminally ill adults in the entire country can now request aid in dying if their suffering becomes intolerable. 

The California Access Campaign was based on initiatives C&C conducts in other states, including New Mexico, Oregon and Vermont. That experiences already is driving significant developments in California:

C&C devised an innovative campaign strategy to pass the bill in less than one year – after Brittany Maynard made that her dying wish. (Read the California Campaign Report here.) But the law would not have passed without the devotion of numerous volunteers. As we celebrate the law’s enactment, we remember Jennifer Glass, Christy O’Donnell and Miguel Carrasquillo, who used their final days and dying breaths to persuade lawmakers to act, but who did not live long enough to use the option they fought for. Miguel, who spoke directly to fellow Latinos in an op-ed and Spanish-language interviews, died just four days before the law was effective. He gave his final interview to Latino media powerhouse Jorge Ramos, which aired on Univision. Watch the video he made with C&C.

Despite all this progress, opponents are not backing down. They failed to gather enough signatures to take a repeal question to the ballot, so they have filed a lawsuit to try to block the law. C&C will take the necessary legal action to thwart this senseless attack on a law supported by a majority of the state’s voters.