Californians terminated lives under aid-in-dying law past year

The data was part of the first report by the California Department of Health since the End of Life Option Act became effective on June 9, 2016.

In California, 191 prescriptions for life-ending drugs were written for terminally ill patients as of the end of December, even though only 111 of those patients had used the drugs by that point. However, only 111 people of the 191 had actually taken the pills by the end of the reporting period.

The new law made the Golden State the fifth state in the country to allow certain patients to request life-ending drugs from their doctors. According to the law, seriously ill people could demand life-threatening drugs to doctors in order to end up their lives. Results on the 59 others who received the drugs but did not die were not reported on in the six-month time frame, the report says.

OR was the first state to adopt this kind of law in 1997.

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Roughly 90 percent of the 111 patients were white, and about 75 percent were between ages 60 and 89.

"Any unused drug that is prescribed for aid in dying has to be returned in person to either the pharmacy where it was purchased to be destroyed or to another (government-designated) place where it can be destroyed", said Bob Davila, a spokesman for the California State Board of Pharmacy, told the Sacramento Bee. Most were receiving hospice, had health insurance and were college educated.

California is 1 of 6 states where medical aid in dying is authorized - Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - along with the District of Columbia that represent 18 percent of the nation's population.

She also explained her advocacy others facing a similar fate, noting while she and her husband were able to move to OR to obtain end-of-life medication, "the vast majority of families do not have the flexibility, resources and time to make all these changes". However, the number of deaths from doctor-prescribed lethal drugs was just 16 in the first year of Oregon's Death with Dignity Act and has been on an upward trend since.

  • Marjorie Miles