The California End Of Life Option Act went into effect June 9, 2016. The law authorizes the practice of medical aid in dying, in which mentally capable adults, with six months or less to live, can request a doctor’s prescription for medication that they could decide to take in their final days or weeks to end unbearable suffering and die peacefully.
Over 2,000 prescriptions have been written since this compassionate law went into effect. The law is set to expire on January 1, 2026 unless we pass new legislation. Compassion & Choices led the effort in 2015. At that time, the California Assembly recognized Compassion & Choices’ hard work to pass California’s End of Life Option Act with a dedicated resolution. We will lead the way again to ensure medical aid in dying remains authorized in California.
How do I obtain a prescription?
Talk with Your Doctor
First, talk with your doctor about whether medical aid in dying is right for you and whether he/she will support you in this decision. This is ultimately your decision, but your doctor can explain the process and discuss what it means for you and your family.
Then, read our information packet about the End of Life Option Act and how to access the law.
To qualify for medical aid in dying under California’s law, an individual must be:
- An adult
- Terminally ill
- Given a prognosis of six months or less to live, and
- Mentally capable of making their own healthcare decisions
An individual must also be:
- A resident of California
- Acting voluntarily
- Making an informed decision, which includes being given information about all other end-of-life options
- Informed that they may choose to obtain the aid-in-dying medication but not take it, and
- Capable of self-administering the medication
In addition to these eligibility requirements, those wishing to qualify for a prescription for aid-in-dying medication must follow regulatory requirements, including having at least two doctor visits for medical evaluation and discussion about the request. Here are the 13 steps necessary to access medical aid in dying.
It can take as little as 15 days or as long as three months for a person requesting a prescription to receive it. It’s important that people wishing to use the law talk to their doctor early to make sure they are willing to write a prescription. The following factsheets contain more comprehensive information about the new law.
Search for Care in Your Area
Use our tool to search for healthcare facilities with policies supportive of medical aid in dying. Check back frequently – we continue to add new facilities as we learn about that.
Where Can I Learn More?
For California Residents:
- California Introduction to Medical Aid in Dying
- California End of Life Option Act Information for State Residents Factsheet
- California End of Life Option Act Frequently Asked Questions Factsheet
- Medicare.gov – Finding a Hospice Agency and Comparing Ratings
- About the Access Campaign
- A Patient’s Guide to Personal Advocacy
- Chinese – About the End of Life Option Act
- Patient’s Request for Aid-in-Dying Drug
- Final Attestation for Aid-in-Dying Drug Interpreter’s Declaration
Find more information on the full range of end-of-life options.