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California Department of Public Health Releases First Report on End of Life Option Act

June 27, 2017

The California Department of Public Health today released the first report on the use of the End of Life Option Act. The report, covering the period from June 9, 2016, when the law took effect, to December 31, 2016, shows that 111 Californians took medications to hasten their death.

Of 258 California residents who started the end-of-life option process under the Act last year, 191 received medication with prescriptions written by 173 doctors. While the Department cautions about drawing conclusions from a partial year report, the data point to what we know from Oregon and Washington: A significant portion of those who obtain prescriptions choose not to use them: 42 percent in California (45% in Oregon).

As in Oregon and Washington, the first report out of California shows that the new assisted dying law works as intended, providing peace of mind, comfort, and control at the end of life to dying Californians.

Deaths under the Act represented 6.06 deaths per 10,000 total 183,265 deaths in California in the reporting period (the rate in Oregon last year was 37.1).

The 111 individuals who took the medication were aged 41 to 99 years with 87.4 percent older than 60; median age was 73, the same as in Oregon.

Similar to Oregon, a majority of Californians using the law had some form of insurance (96.4 percent). Likewise, most, 83.8 percent were receiving hospice or palliative care when they died (88.7 percent in Oregon last year).

Future reports will cover calendar year periods; the next report, for the period from January 1 to December 31, 2017, will be released in early 2018.

Read the full report →

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Afterword: Physician-Hastened Dying Concepts

The Power of Personal Stories

All the data in the world don’t have the same power as personal stories. We talk to people all over the country who have stories to share about why they are passionate about advocating for death with dignity. Some of them write their stories for us to share on our website. You can share your story, too. Do you live in one of the thirty states that considered a bill to legalize medical aid in dying this year? A letter to your state senator and representative will pull the “assisted suicide” debate out of the weeds and put a face on it – your face. You can do that for more people with a letter to the editor. We all have a story to tell – it is time you shared yours.