The California Law

The new Law is in effect as of January 1, 2022.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 380 on October 5, 2021 making much needed adjustments to the original End of Life Option Act of 2015.  Here is a summary of what is now in effect for anyone seeking Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) in the state of California:

  • The new bill reduces the 15-day waiting period between the required two oral requests, to 48 hours. 
  • Healthcare systems and hospices will now have to post their aid-in-dying policies on their websites.
  • The final attestation form will be completely eliminated.  
  • If a terminally-ill patient requests MAID and their physician does not wish to participate, the physician will be required to tell the patient and must document the request and transfer the patient’s medical records upon request.
  • The amendment also clarifies that MAID medication can be taken within a healthcare facility.

Eligibility Requirements to Access the Law remain unchanged:

  • Must be 18 years or older.
  • Must be of sound mind and exhibit appropriate decision-making capabilities to the attending physician.
  • Must be able to self-ingest the medication either orally or by pushing through an NG tube.
  • Must be diagnosed with a terminal disease, with a life expectancy of six months or less,  by two physicians.

 SB-380 End of life. (2021-2022)

From the LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST:

Existing law, the End of Life Option Act, until January 1, 2026, authorizes an adult who meets certain qualifications, and who has been determined by their attending physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, as defined, to make a request for an aid-in-dying drug for the purpose of ending their life. Existing law establishes the procedures for making these requests, including that 2 oral requests be made a minimum of 15 days apart, specified forms to request an aid-in-dying drug be submitted, under specified circumstances, and a final attestation be completed. Existing law requires specified information to be documented in the individual’s medical record, including, among other things, all oral and written requests for an aid-in-dying drug.

This bill would allow for an individual to qualify for aid-in-dying medication by making 2 oral requests a minimum of 48 hours apart. The bill would eliminate the requirement that an individual who is prescribed and ingests aid-in-dying medication make a final attestation. The bill would require that the date of all oral and written requests be documented in an individual’s medical record and would require that upon a transfer of care, that record be provided to the qualified individual. The bill would extend the operation of the act until January 1, 2031, thereby imposing a state-mandated local program by extending the operation of crimes for specified violations of the act.

Existing law makes participation in activities authorized pursuant to the act voluntary, and makes individual health care providers immune from liability for refusing to engage in activities authorized pursuant to its provisions, including providing information about the act or referring an individual to a provider who prescribes aid-in-dying medication.

This bill would require a health care provider who is unable or unwilling to participate under the act to inform the individual seeking an aid-in-dying medication that they do not participate, document the date of the individual’s request and the provider’s notice of their objection, and transfer their relevant medical record upon request.

Existing law authorizes a health care provider to prohibit its employees, independent contractors, or other persons or entities, including other health care providers, from participating under the act, including acting as a consulting physician, while on the premises owned or under the management or direct control of that prohibiting health care provider, or while acting within the course and scope of any employment by, or contract with, the prohibiting health care provider.

This bill would instead authorize a health care entity to prohibit employees and contractors, as specified, from participating under the act while on the entity’s premises or in the course of their employment. The bill would prohibit a health care provider or health care entity from engaging in false, misleading, or deceptive practices relating to their willingness to qualify an individual or provide a prescription for an aid-in-dying medication to a qualified individual. The bill would require a health care entity to post its current policy regarding medical aid in dying on its internet website.

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

To read the full text, and compare the original and amended versions, visit California’s Legislative Info page here.

aid-in-dying_request.pdf

Click to download document.

The Original California Law

When the End of Life Option Act (EOLOA) was signed by California Governor Jerry Brown on October 5, 2015 and went into effect on June 9, 2016, it laid a solid foundation for all Californians to be supported in their end of life wishes. It represents a major step forward in the nationwide effort to change state laws to better reflect humane values. The new law AB-15 was patterned after the country’s first groundbreaking law, Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act in effect since 1997 and Washington State’s Death with Dignity Act in effect since 2009. With the new law, California became the 7th, and the largest state in the country to allow licensed physicians to legally prescribe a lethal dose of medication to their decisionally capable, terminally ill adult patients requesting Medical Aid in Dying (MAID).  (Read original law AB-15 here.)

“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death. I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.” 

Governor Jerry Brown signing the EOLOA

I feel so lucky to have found you at this moment. I don’t think I could have gotten through this without your help. Having you both with me on my husband’s last day was a huge gift.” — J.C.

End of life choices California

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