The California Law
“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 when signing the EOLOA into law
Eligibility Requirements to Access the Law:
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.
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 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).
From the LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST:
AB 15, Eggman. End of life.Existing law authorizes an adult to give an individual health care instruction and to appoint an attorney to make health care decisions for that individual in the event of his or her incapacity pursuant to a power of attorney for health care.
This bill, until January 1, 2026, would enact the End of Life Option Act authorizing an adult who meets certain qualifications, and who has been determined by his or her attending physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, as defined, to make a request for a drug prescribed pursuant to these provisions for the purpose of ending his or her life. The bill would establish the procedures for making these requests. The bill would also establish specified forms to request an aid-in-dying drug, under specified circumstances, an interpreter declaration to be signed subject to penalty of perjury, thereby creating a crime and imposing a state-mandated local program, and a final attestation for an aid-in-dying drug. This bill would require 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…
LEGAL UPDATE: June 15, 2018
A California appeals court has reinstated the End of Life Option Act law, ruling that it can remain in effect, at least temporarily, while opponents’ legal challenges are considered. This means that terminally-ill Californians who meet specific requirements can once again legally obtain life-ending medications while the case works its way through the courts.