Advocacy Group Applauds Senate Health Committee for Passage of Legislation Support to Keep and Improve California’s End of Life Option Act
SB 380 Could Help Hundreds of Californians to Access Law
March 24, 2021
(Sacramento, CA) Compassion & Choices Action Network today applauded the Senate Health Committee for their support in moving Senate Bill 380 out of committee and closer to passage. SB 380 would improve access to the California End of Life Option Act and make it permanent. The Senate Health Committee approved the measure in a 8-1 vote. The bill is supported by the California Medical Association and now moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The End of Life Option Act gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to request prescription medication they can decide to take to peacefully end unbearable suffering. The legislation included a provision that would expire at the end of 2025 unless new legislation is passed.
“SB 380 gives us a chance to not only re-authorize the California End of Life Option Act, but to improve access to it for terminally ill Californians across the demographic spectrum,” said Kim Callinan, President and CEO of Compassion & Choices Action Network. “This past year, the COVID public health emergency brought about a deeper understanding of the tragedy of loved ones suffering at life’s end, and the limits of modern medicine to fully relieve that suffering. We can do better by re-authorizing and improving the California End of Life Option Act. I applaud the members of the Senate Health Committee for moving SB 380 forward.”
SB 380, co-authored by Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and Asm. Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), would remove regulatory roadblocks to accessing the End of Life Option Act that impede or prevent hundreds of qualified terminally ill Californians from using medical aid-in-dying to peacefully end their suffering. It would make several important improvements to the California End of Life Option Act, which took effect in 2016, including:
- It would eliminate the original law’s sunset clause, making it a permanent statute.
- It would reduce the mandatory minimum 15-day waiting period between the two oral requests for aid-in-dying medication to 48 hours for all eligible patients. (The New Mexico Legislature passed similar medical aid-in-dying legislation on March 15 that requires a 48-hour waiting period between the time the prescription is written and when it is filled.)
- Healthcare systems and hospices would have to post their medical aid-in-dying policies on their websites.
- Ensures that patients would have to be provided factual information about the End of Life Option Act when they ask for it and makes sure that physicians are upfront with their patients and tell them if they will not support them.
Since the End of Life Option Act took effect on June 9, 2016, data collected by the California Department of Public Health through December 31, 2019, shows that nearly 2,000 mentally capable, terminally ill individuals with six months or less to live have received a prescription for medical aid-in-dying medication to peacefully end unbearable suffering.
A study by Kaiser Permanente Southern California shows one-third of terminally ill adults who request to use the End of Life Option Act die before completing the time-consuming process, which includes a 15-day waiting period, and often takes weeks or months to finish. Using this one-third ratio, nearly 1,000 individuals statewide have died before obtaining a prescription (approximately 275 people on an annual basis) vs. the nearly 2,000 who completed the process and received prescriptions for medical aid-in-dying.
For more information, here is a fact sheet about SB 380.
ABOUT COMPASSION & CHOICES ACTION NETWORK/COMPASSION & CHOICES
Compassion & Choices is comprised of two organizations that improve care and expand options at life’s end: Compassion & Choices (501(c)(3)) educates, empowers, defends, and advocates; the Compassion & Choices Action Network (501(c)(4)) focuses exclusively on legislation, ballot campaigns, and limited electoral work.
Paid for by Compassion & Choices Action Network