In California, we are very fortunate to have won the right to medical aid in dying (MAiD). With the California End of Life Option Act (ELOA) in effect since June 2016, MAiD has been legal and available for more than seven years. The law provides the ability of a physician to write a prescription for life-ending medication for a terminally ill patient, and for that patient to self-ingest the medication. Since California’s law was passed by a legislative vote, and not by a public referendum on the ballot, surprisingly few people in a state as large as ours know about this option.

Additionally, because we live in a time of widespread misinformation and disinformation, EOLCCA receives a lot of inquiries from people who believe many of the myths circulating about medical aid in dying.

The purpose of this article is to dispel those myths and provide you with the facts, according to the ELOA.

Fact versus myth road sign with two arrows on blue sky background. White two street sign with arrows on metal pole. Two way road sign with text.

Myth #1: It is complicated to access MAiD.

FACT: It is not complicated once you have the required two physicians to work with (an attending physician and a consulting physician). Often the attending physician has a consulting physician already at hand. The law requires oral and written requests of two physicians who agree that you are eligible (meaning life expectancy of six months or less), just like the eligibility requirements for hospice. One of the services we provide to people who reach out to us is helping them talk with their own physician about prescribing and, if the physician will not participate as allowed by the law, we help them find a new physician who will prescribe.

Myth #2: MAiD requires too much paperwork.

FACT: The requesting patient only needs to complete a one page form. The REQUEST FOR AN AID-IN-DYING DRUG TO END MY LIFE IN A HUMANE AND DIGNIFIED MANNER form can be found on our website.

Myth #3: You must open and mix 100 capsules of medication.

FACT: This used to be the case, but now the medication arrives at the home in the form of a powder in a small bottle, dispensed from a compounding pharmacy. It consists of a combination of medications to which two ounces of water or apple juice are added, just prior to taking. Once mixed, it becomes a milk-like liquid. After consuming all the medication within two minutes, the patient generally falls asleep within five minutes and goes into a deeper and deeper sleep, and dies peacefully, the way most individuals say they wish to die. If the patient cannot swallow, there are other ways to self-ingest the medication according to the law. A knowledgeable physician can discuss these options.

Myth #4: A medical professional (MD, RN)  must be present when the MAiD medication is taken.

FACT: A person may take their medication with anyone present whom they wish. Anyone, including you, may mix the medication. But we feel that no one should die alone. We provide experienced, highly trained volunteers who are available to be with clients and their families to offer support, if requested.

Myth #5: You must have resided in California for at least six months in order to access MAiD.

FACT: The ELOA says nothing about the length of the residency requirement. Any place of residence in California, whether on your own or with family/friends, is sufficient to seek medical care in the state.

Myth #6: MAiD is euthanasia.

FACT: Euthanasia involves the administration of lethal medication to an individual by a medical professional. MAiD laws in the US require the individual to self-ingest, by swallowing or pushing a plunger by themselves into their digestive system.

Myth #7: MAiD is suicide.

FACT: MAiD allows an individual who would otherwise wish to continue living but cannot due to a terminal diagnosis without any chance of recovery, to plan for the day, time, and place when they may die peacefully. Suicide is committed by someone who is usually not dying and often suffering from mental illness. The ELOA states MAiD is not suicide in four separate places in the law.

Myth #8: Life insurance will not pay out for someone who uses MAiD.

FACT: By law, life insurance, wills, and contracts are unaffected by someone who chooses MAiD. The death certificate states the cause of death as the underlying disease (cancer, heart failure, COPD, etc.), never MAiD or suicide.

Myth #9: If I go through the process and receive my MAiD prescription, I must take it.

FACT: You can always change your mind, even on the planned day. You are in control. One-third of Americans in states with medical aid in dying who obtain the MAiD prescription never take it because they can relax significantly, knowing they have the medication if they ever need it.

Please feel free to call or email us anytime with questions or concerns at 760-636-8009 or Our volunteers are available to help you and we do not charge for our services.


Lynne Calkins is a founding director and current board member of End of Life Choices California in addition to serving as an active client volunteer. She developed EOLCCA’s client services volunteer program, launched EOLCCA’s MAiD Bereavement Group, and is a frequent speaker to a wide variety of audiences on end-of-life options. She campaigned vigorously for the passage of California’s End of Life Option Act in 2015 and is eternally grateful for the legacy of Brittany Maynard that helped make this law a reality for all Californians. She is passionate about the individual’s right to choose a peaceful death at the end of life.

EOLCCA supports a strong team of experienced volunteers throughout the state, ready to help anyone, anywhere in California free of charge with information and support regarding all end-of-life planning and choices, including aid in dying through the California End of Life Option Act. You can find comprehensive information on our user-friendly website. EOLCCA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and we rely on donations from idividuals and foundations. To support our work, or request an educational presentation, please visit ways to help.  Thank you!

End Well Symposium November 16, 2023 in LA

End of Life Choices California is pleased to introduce you to End Well, a nonprofit dedicated to transforming end-of-life conversations. End Well’s upcoming November 16th symposium in Los Angeles brings together experts, celebrities, and caregivers to discuss end-of-life experiences, grief, and healing.

As a nonprofit, EOLCCA has been offered this link for you to access discounted tickets.


End Well 2023: It’s About Time
Not Just a Symposium. A Revolution. Break the conference mold and leave not only informed but transformed. Be part of the seismic shift to make end of life, part of life.Thursday, November 16, 2023Skirball Cultural Center
2701 N Sepulveda Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90049
8am – 6pm25 curated talks one 1 main stage:
We spotlight pioneering minds and offer them a platform to take their ideas to the next level with fresh talks or in unexpected conversations. We are known for identifying emerging talents who soon capture global attention and this year promises the same.

Mingle at Lunch and After-hours:
The most cherished aspect of our experience? The serendipitous lunch. Enjoy an outdoor lunch with thoughtfully curated conversations and an engaging lunch host, fostering genuine connections on a topic of your choice. As the sun sets, we’ll guide you to a reception to mix and mingle with speakers and fellow attendees.
Wondering if this event is for you?  Everyone is invited to attend, whether you’re an expert or just passionately curious.
To view symposium speakers, visit our website.
The logistics:
End Well will take place at the Skirball Cultural Center. Plan on a day beginning with a continental breakfast at 8:00 AM and concluding with a reception at 5:30 PM.
Registration includes access to all programming on November 16th, as well as continental breakfast, lunch and cocktail reception.

Eggs in Purgatory Book Review

Spoiler Alert: We know that parts of this book review are hard to read, but we believe it is worth sharing. The reality is that self-medications can go wrong, not all hospices are the same, and every experience is unique. EOLCCA was founded in large part to address and try to alleviate all of these issues and more, by providing information and support to people who contact us.

What if your elderly parent wanted to end his suffering – but didn’t have a terminal diagnosis?

What if you were honoring a loved one’s wishes – but began feeling, guiltily, that maybe you “just wanted him to die”?

Award-winning author Genanne Walsh examines some of the most complex questions that confront terminally-ill individuals and family members wanting to help and support them.  Facing life’s end is no easy task. Walsh’s father Gene faced his own end fearlessly and early, but when it arrived there were roadblocks for him, as well as for his loyal and supportive daughter, that they could never have anticipated.


Favorite breakfast dish

In her excellent new book, Eggs in Purgatory (the title references a favorite breakfast dish), Walsh leads readers through and around those obstacles with her. The tale takes barely 80 pages of text – it’s more long-form essay than hefty book – but brings valuable lessons and insight.

“All my life,” Walsh writes, “I could count on two things from my father: love and upheaval. I felt acutely when he was dying that it was my destiny to walk that road with him . . .”

Raised Catholic, Gene Walsh served as a priest for ten years. After meeting his future wife at a Catholic university in upstate New York, he left the priesthood and the church. But he remained deeply spiritual. Part of that spirituality was a view of death and afterlife his daughter describes as a belief that “his spirit would continue: stardust, essence, universal oneness.”  It supported his emphatic wish for a quick exit from this life, with no intervention to extend it when the time came. To that end, Gene Walsh did all the right things: wrote down his instructions, talked with his physician and his daughter – nobody was in doubt about his end-of-life wishes. (See the Planning tab on this website for help with your own!) But this is not always enough.


She dialed 911

Eggs in Purgatory opens with the story of Gene Walsh’s suicide attempt. Finding her father snoring but unresponsive, an empty bottle of over-the-counter “sleep aid” pills on the bedside table and vomit on his shirt, his daughter could not leave him to whatever might come next. She dialed 911. The call led to a weeklong hospital stay that began with a psychiatric hold and ended with diminished mobility added to his already failing hearing and eyesight and a list of other non-life-threatening afflictions. Discharged with instructions about getting better, he had little enthusiasm for living.

A wish to quickly die

After his wife’s death, Gene had moved to California, into a downstairs apartment below the home of his only child, daughter Genanne, and her wife Lauren. It was there, at Christmas, not long after the suicide attempt, that he explained his decision to stop eating and drinking – invoking the California End of Life Option Act and believing that he would then quickly die. A sympathetic physician honored that decision and referred him to hospice care.

Author Walsh writes of what followed in a wrenching tale of good end-of-life plans gone awry. Gene left his physician’s office almost euphoric. The family joyfully received the hospice nurse, a gentle, empathetic young man who outlined the care that would follow. But joy came to an abrupt end when the nurse called his office to get a sign off from the attending physician. That doctor, after reviewing the case, decided that Walsh lacked a terminal diagnosis as required by the California law and was therefore displaying “suicidal behavior.” This required a report to local authorities, a visit from the police, and a narrowly escaped return to the psychiatric ward.

Eggs in Purgatory Book Cover
Happy ending

There is a happy ending to author Walsh’s small book. It’s no spoiler to say that her father eventually gets the death he welcomed. What she leaves us with are cautionary lessons, and a wealth of insight into questions that can arise when we or a loved one is facing death.

When calls for help and information come to EOLCCA, our trained volunteers work with clients like Gene Walsh and his family to connect with a sympathetic hospice and get the support needed. We are grateful to author Walsh for sharing her story in order to help others avoid the pitfalls her family encountered.   


A lifelong newspaper and magazine writer, EOLCCA Board Member Fran Moreland Johns has published fiction, nonfiction, and several books. Her focus on end-of-life issues includes many volunteer years, numerous articles and one book, Dying Unafraid. She holds a BA in Art from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, and currently blogs at and Her short story collection, Marshallville Stories, was released in April 2022.

EOLCCA supports a strong team of experienced volunteers throughout the state, ready to help anyone, anywhere in California free of charge with information and support regarding all end-of-life planning and choices, including aid in dying through the California End of Life Option Act. You can find comprehensive information on our user-friendly website. To support our work, or request an educational presentation, please visit ways to help.  Thank you for your support!

Advanced End-of-Life Options Training for Doulas 1-20-24

Doula Training in EOL Options brochure

Advanced Training for End of Life Doulas: two required sessions (via Zoom). 9AM-1PM (Pacific) on Saturdays, Jan 13 and Jan 20, 2024.

End of Life Choices California is pleased and honored to announce a new educational opportunity being offered to certified End-of-Life Doulas. We will be holding our first Advanced End-of-Life Options doula training in January 2024, live on Zoom, designed to enhance the training that certified end-of-life doulas have already completed.

The training is being offered to already certified End-of-Life Doulas from anywhere in the U.S. Please visit our website for more information.

You will also find an application for the January training and a printable brochure about the new program. Questions can be answered by emailing EOLCCA plans to offer this training 2 or 3 times a year, or as demand dictates.