California Assembly Health Committee Clears Bill to Keep, Improve End of Life Option Act

SB 380 Gains Momentum, Heads to Assembly Judiciary Committee
June 22, 2021

(Sacramento, CA) Compassion & Choices Action Network today thanked the California State Assembly Health Committee for passing Senate Bill 380 by a vote of 10-3.  SB 380, co-authored by Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), would improve access to the California End of Life Option Act and make it permanent. The bill now moves to the Assembly Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman in a grey blazer, yellow shirt, and black mask with her hand over her heart, speaking about SB 380

Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman speaking about SB 380 on June 22, 2021 in front of the Assembly Health Committee.

This month marks the five-year anniversary of the implementation of California’s End of Life Option Act. The law gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to request a prescription for 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.

“We applaud Assembly Health Committee Chair Wood for his leadership in helping to improve and make the California End of Life Option Act permanent,” said Kim Callinan, president/CEO of the Compassion & Choices Action Network, who testified at the hearing before the vote. “Thank you for voting and taking a bold, compassionate step towards bringing peace of mind to many terminally ill Californians and their families.” 

SB 380 would remove regulatory roadblocks to accessing the End of Life Option Act that impede or prevent hundreds of qualified terminally-ill adult Californians from using medical aid-in-dying to peacefully end their suffering. It would make several important improvements to the End of Life Option Act, including:

  • Eliminate the original law’s sunset clause, making it a permanent statute.
  • 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. (In April, New Mexico’s governor signed a similar medical aid-in-dying law passed by the state legislature in March 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, increasing transparency for terminally ill patients who need prompt access to this information.

Nearly 2,000 mentally capable, terminally ill California adults with six months or less to live have received a prescription for medical aid in dying to peacefully end unbearable suffering since the End of Life Option Act took effect on June 9, 2016, according to data collected by the California Department of Public Health through December 31, 2019.

In the five years of access to medical aid in dying in California, the safeguards and protections in the End of Life Option Act have proven effective, with no reported instances of abuse or coercion. The law works safely for those who can access it, but there is evidence that many eligible patients are unable to access the law. 

A study by Kaiser Permanente Southern California shows one-third of terminally ill adults who request to use the End of Life Option Act died before completing the time-consuming process. The current process under the law, including the 15-day waiting period, in reality 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. 

This bipartisan bill has been endorsed by both the Libertarian Party of California and the California Democratic Party as well as the Dolores Huerta Foundation and the American Nurses Association of California. 

For more information about SB 380, Click HERE.



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.

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