Terminally Ill Patients End Their Lives Under Calif. Right-To-Die Law

111 Terminally Ill People Took Their Own Lives in 1st 6 Months of California's Right-to-Die Law

Neuromuscular disorders, such as Parkinson's Disease and ALS, were the second largest underlying illness among those who took their own lives under the law, totaling 18 percent of the group.

The End of Life Option Act allows qualified terminally ill adults in California the ability to obtain and self-administer aid-in-dying drugs. Of that group, 111 people were reported by physicians to have died after ingesting the drug. The 111 individuals were among the 191 people who received prescriptions for life-ending drugs.

Christian Burkin, spokesperson for California Assembly member Susan Talamantes Eggman, said that the data may be limited, but the numbers show that the End of Life Option Act is being implemented the way Eggman and other authors of the law intended it to work. According to the law, seriously ill people could demand life-threatening drugs to doctors in order to end up their lives.

OR was the first state to enact "right-to-die" legislation in 1997, according to the Associated Press.

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Among the 111 patients who died, 87% were over 60 years of age or older. 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. More than 94 percent of the patients had health insurance, including 57 percent on Medicare, Medicaid or California's Medi-Cal program.

Alexandra Snyder, an attorney with Life Legal Defense Foundation and an opponent of the right-to-die law, told the Times that California has effectively decriminalized assisted suicide.

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".

Writing the lethal prescriptions is completely voluntary for doctors and medical facilities, and some, including all Catholic and church-affiliated hospitals, have not allowed their physicians to prescribe such medicines.

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