California End of Life
Option Act (ELOA)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed
Senate Bill 380 making much needed
adjustments to the existing ELOA in
California. The new provisions are now
in effect as of January 1, 2022.
Understanding the California End of Life Option Act
Your Comprehensive Guide to California’s Law for end-of-life options and the End of Life Option Act
The Foundation of ELOA
In 2016, California took a significant step forward in compassionate end-of-life care with the enactment of the California End of Life Option Act (ELOA), a law that empowers terminally-ill individuals to make informed decisions about their end-of-life options. We recognize the importance of your dignity, autonomy, and choice in these deeply personal moments. The ELOA offers eligible Californians the option to access medical aid in dying (MAID), under specific and carefully regulated conditions.
Recent Amendments and Enhancements
As part of our commitment to providing comprehensive support and guidance, EOLCCA aims to demystify the complexities surrounding ELOA and its recent amendments. Significant adjustments have been made to the existing law with the passage of Senate Bill 380 by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2021. This amendment further refines and enhances the process to access medical aid in dying. These amendments, effective January 1st 2022, reflect ongoing efforts to align the law more closely with the needs and rights of terminally-ill patients seeking control over their end-of-life decisions.
How EOLCCA Can Help
This page is designed to offer you a detailed overview of ELOA, including eligibility criteria, the step-by-step process to access MAID, and an understanding of the recent legislative changes. Whether you are considering this option for yourself, seeking information for a loved one, or a healthcare professional looking to support your patients, EOLCCA is here to guide you through every aspect of the law and ensure you have the information and support you need during this important journey.
Do I qualify for the ELOA?
Eligibility Requirements to Access the Law, updated Jan. 1, 2022:
- 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.
Changes to ELOA as of January 1, 2022
Here is a summary of what is different for anyone seeking Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) in the state of California in 2022:
- The new bill reduces the waiting period between the required two oral requests to 48 hours.
- Healthcare systems and hospices now have to post their aid-in-dying policies on their websites.
- The final attestation form is no longer needed.
- As of May 2023, if a terminally-ill patient requests MAID and their physician does not wish to participate, the state of California will no longer require doctors to participate in medical aid-in-dying if they choose not to due to religious convictions or professional ethics. They may, however, document the request if they wish in order to start the process and the patient can then find another physician who will prescribe though it is no longer legally required to do so.
- The amendment also clarifies that MAID medication can be taken within a healthcare facility.
When the End of Life Option Act was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, 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 ground-breaking law: Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, in effect since 1997. 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 decisionally-capable, terminally-ill patients, 18 years or older, thoughtfully requesting medical aid-in-dying.
We are here to help. Our highly-trained volunteers are available to explain the current California law in detail and walk you and your family through the process from beginning to end.
For specific information…
Frequently Asked Questions about the Law
What are the legal requirements for medical aid in dying in California?
Medical aid in dying is legal in California under the End of Life Option Act. To qualify, individuals must be mentally competent adults with a diagnosis by 2 different physicians of a terminal illness expected to result in death within six months. They must make two oral requests to their attending physician, separated by no less than 48 hours, and provide that physician a signed written request form.
The request form must be witnessed by two individuals, one of whom cannot be a relative or beneficiary. For more information, visit the End of Life Choices California website
What Changes Were Made to the End of Life Option Act in 2022?
Significant changes to the California End of Life Option Act (ELOA) include reducing the waiting period between two oral requests to 48 hours, removing the final attestation form requirement, and allowing healthcare facilities to not participate due to religious or ethical objections. Discover more about the changes.
What Is the Role of Healthcare Systems and Hospices Under the New ELOA Provisions?
Healthcare systems and hospices in California are now required to post their aid-in-dying policies on their websites, ensuring transparency and accessibility for individuals seeking MAID. Find out more about healthcare provider roles.
Can MAID Medication Be Taken Within a Healthcare Facility?
Yes, the amendment to the ELOA clarifies that MAID medication can be administered within a healthcare facility in California. Learn more about where MAID can be administered.
What Support Is Available for Navigating the MAID Process in California?
End of Life Choices California (EOLCCA) offers support through highly-trained volunteers to explain the law in detail and assist families from start to finish. Get support navigating the MAID process.
Where Can Patients and Physicians Find Specific Information on MAID?
What Is the Historical Background of the California End of Life Option Act?
The California End of Life Option Act, effective June 9, 2016, was inspired by Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, marking a significant step in supporting Californians’ end-of-life wishes. Read about the law’s background.
Need more information?
If you have questions about the law, or if you think you might be eligible, please contact one of our voluteers to assist you further.
Further Reading and Additional Resources
For those seeking more information on Medical Aid in Dying (MAID) and end-of-life care options, the following resources offer comprehensive guidance, support, and legal details:
- California Department of Public Health: End of Life Option Act – Official government resource detailing the MAID laws in California, including statistics and annual reports.
- Compassion & Choices – A national organization advocating for end-of-life care options, providing resources for patients, families, and healthcare providers.
- End of Life Choices California: Resources – A curated list of resources by EOLCCA covering various aspects of end-of-life planning, including legal, medical, and emotional support.
- Death with Dignity National Center – Offers information on death with dignity laws across the United States, including advocacy and education efforts.
- National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) – Provides information on hospice care, palliative care, and advance care planning.
These resources are intended to support individuals and families in making informed decisions regarding end-of-life care and to understand the legal options available in California and nationwide.