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

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CBS Local) — More than 100 terminally ill people in California have legally ended their lives since a “right-to-die” law took effect in 2016, according to a report from the state’s health department.

Between June 9 and Dec. 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. However, only 111 people of the 191 had actually taken the pills by the end of the reporting period.

About 59 percent of patients who ended their lives had been diagnosed with terminal cancer, and 18 percent had been diagnosed with neuromuscular disorders like Parkinson’s disease and ALS, according to the report.

Roughly 90 percent of the 111 patients were white, and about 75 percent were between ages 60 and 89. A majority of the people reported having some college education.

The End of Life Option Act made California the fifth state in the U.S. to allow terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to request life-ending prescriptions from their doctors.

Oregon was the first state to enact “right-to-die” legislation in 1997, according to the Associated Press. Doctor-assisted deaths are also legal in Vermont, Montana, Colorado, Washington state and Washington, D.C.

While California is significantly more diverse than Oregon, the California Dept. of Health report nearly mirrors what has been occurring in Oregon.

Doctor-assisted deaths were attributed to six of every 10,000 California deaths in the six-month reporting period, according to the state’s Health Department. That figure is much lower than the 2016 rate in Oregon, where assisted deaths made up 37 of every 10,000 deaths.

California’s End of Life Option Act gained national attention after Brittany Maynard — a woman who was diagnosed with a stage 4 malignant brain tumor — moved from California to Oregon in order to legally obtain life-ending medication to die under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act.

Maynard died on Nov. 1, 2014.

[H/T] Los Angeles Times

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