ST. PAUL, Minn. – The California Department of Public Health released its first report detailing usage information for the first six months of the End-of-Life Option Act. Modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, the California law gives mentally capable, terminally-ill adults with six months or fewer to live the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication they can self-administer for a peaceful death if their suffering becomes unbearable.
“This new data from California confirms the law brings peace of mind to people suffering at the end of life, just as it has in Oregon and Washington State,” said Sen. Chris Eaton, chief author of the Minnesota End-of-Life Option Act. “Fears about a slippery slope or abuse still haven’t materialized.”
“In the first six months, 173 physicians wrote 191 prescriptions for patients with cancer and neuromuscular diseases. That tells me that medical aid in dying is rarely and appropriately used in California, corroborating the current body of data,” said Rep. Mike Freiberg, House author of the Minnesota bill.
The state data shows from June 9 through Dec. 31, 2016, 191 terminally-ill Californians received aid-in-dying medication prescriptions from 173 doctors. Additional data from the California report includes:
- 58 percent of individuals ingested the medication
- 4 percent of people who received aid-in-dying prescriptions were insured
- 8 percent of Californians with aid-in-dying prescriptions were enrolled in hospice
- The median age of those ingested the medication was 73
- The most common underlying causes of death were breast and lung cancer
The Minnesota End-of-Life Option Act, also modeled after the Oregon law, was introduced in 2017 but did not receive a hearing.