About the California Law

The California End of Life Option Act went into effect on June 9th, 2016, authorizing the compassionate option of medical aid in dying for terminally ill adults to get a prescription they can take to end their life peacefully.California’s Senate Bill 380, improving the End of Life Act (and removing the previous sunset provision), was signed by Governor Newsom on October 5, 2021. The bill went into effect on January 1, 2022. Improvements to the law include:

  • Reducing the mandatory minimum 15-day waiting period between the two oral requests for aid-in-dying medication to 48 hours for all eligible patients.
  • Requiring healthcare systems and hospices put their medical aid-in-dying policies on their websites.

Over 5,000 prescriptions have been written since this compassionate law went into effect. The law is set to expire on January 1, 2031 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.

Understand Eligibility Requirements

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 48 hours 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.

Where Can I Learn More?

For California Residents:

State Forms

Other State Based Resources

  • End of Life Choices California – End of Life Choices California provides information, support, resources and guidance on end of life options to California residents and their families.

Find more information on the full full range of end-of-life options.

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