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Status of Medical Aid in Dying
Medical aid in dying has been authorized in California since 2016 via the California End of Life Option Act; however, the legislation is currently under attack in the courts.
The California End of Life Option Act went into effect on June 9, 2016, authorizing the compassionate option of medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults to get a prescription they can take to end their life peacefully. California’s Senate Bill 380, improving the End of Life Option Act, and extending the previous sunset provision, was signed by Governor Newsom on October 5, 2021. The bill went into effect on January 1, 2022. See bill summary for an overview of the improvements that were made to the End of Life Option Act.
On May 18, 2022, Christian Medical and Dental Associations, et al. filed a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Senate Bill 380, the recently amended California End of Life Option Act (“the Act”). Compassion & Choices filed a motion to intervene on behalf of four clients: the bill’s sponsor, a terminally ill patient and two physicians who participate in the practice of medical aid in dying. More information can be found here.
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Check out our playlist of videos about the California End of Life Option Act:
- Attend an Event in California: Participate in virtual activities related to medical aid in dying and advance care planning.
- Volunteer With Us: Join other passionate and dedicated individuals to work to re-enact legislation that improves care and expands end-of-life choice.
- Schedule a Presentation: We'll explain the full range of end-of-life options and explain step-by-step how the law works - in English and in Spanish..
Education and Outreach
The bilingual California Access Campaign:
- Helps patients, caregivers and health professionals understand how the law works. Staff and volunteers presented at over 100 public outreach events this year alone.
- Assists healthcare facilities develop more supportive policies. To date more than 80% of large health facilities have adopted policies supportive of medical aid in dying.
- Provides technical assistance and presentations to healthcare providers on end-of-life options.
Sign up to volunteer or click here to request a presentation in your own community.
Our five-year goal to pass a law in California was achieved in just one year.
Tools and Resources
For Patients Learn whether you are eligible for the California End of Life Option Act. About the End of Life Option Act (in Chinese).
End-of-Life Planning Use our step-by-step guide to chart your journey or access the California advance directive directly here.
Recursos en Español Recursos en Español.
COVID-19 Toolkit Get answers to your questions about COVID-19 and end of life care.
Resources for Providers Find resources tailored to the needs of healthcare providers.
Dementia Values & Priorities Tool Use our tool to document your preferences to make sure you get the care you want.
What's Happening Now
On February 11, 2021 SB 380 was introduced in the California legislature. SB 380 will improve upon the law so that more eligible Californians are able to access the law. On October 5, 2021, Governor Newsom signed SB 380 into law, and improvements took effect in January 2022. Key improvements include:
- It reduces the mandatory minimum 15-day waiting period between the two oral requests for aid-in-dying medication to 48 hours for all eligible patients. (The New Mexico legislature passed similar medical aid-in-dying legislation on March 15 that requires a 48-hour waiting period between the time the prescription is written and when it is filled.)
- It requires healthcare systems and hospices to put their medical aid-in-dying policies on their websites.
- It clarifies that the first oral request must be documented in a patient's medical record even if the physician chooses not to support the patient in the option.
- It ensures that patients will be given factual information about the End of Life Option Act when they ask so that physicians are upfront with their patients and tell them if they will not support them.