Published: Sat, July 01, 2017
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

More than 100 people exercise California's new right to die

More than 100 people exercise California's new right to die

31, 2016, 191 patients with six months or fewer to live legally obtained life-ending prescriptions under the End of Life Option Act, according to the report.

The similar law (Right-to-die Law) was approved by OR state government and many other states two decades ago that left majority of white, strongly educated cancer patients of age 60 dead. While 111 people took the medicine and died, 191 prescriptions were actually written, which means 80 people had a change of heart or circumstances changed in some way.

On Tuesday, in its first-ever mandated statistical report on California's aid-in-dying law, the state Department of Public Health cataloged illnesses, ages and other data, but it began with a total: 111 terminally ill adults took doctor-prescribed drugs previous year to end their lives.

The report analyzes statistics only through December 31 of 2016, so its numbers understate use of the law to date.

But opposition to the law remains. Of that group, only 111 had taken the pills by the end of a year ago.

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Compassion & Choices is the oldest nonprofit working to improve care and expand options for the end of life in the United States, with 450,000 members nationwide.

"It's really tragic that doctors are now thinking that the best they can do for a patient is to give them a handful of barbiturates and leave them to their own devices", Alexandra Snyder, an attorney with Life Legal Defense Foundation, told the Los Angeles Times. The state officials reported 10,000 deaths in California within a short span of time from June to December in 2016.

That's much lower than the 2016 rate in OR, where lethal prescriptions accounted for 37 per 10,000 deaths.

California's law gained momentum after Brittany Maynard moved from California to Oregon, so she could legally die with medication prescribed under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. More than 94 percent of the patients had health insurance, including 57 percent on Medicare, Medicaid or California's Medi-Cal program. Each year, on or before July 1, the Department of Public Health must provide prescribed information on those who sought and used aid-in-dying drugs. Fifty-nine percent of those who died were suffering from cancer.

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