Civil Rights Advocate Dolores Huerta, Hollywood Actor Mauricio Ochmann Urge Legislators to Help Improve Access to End of Life Option Act
Record Videos in Support of SB 380 Before March 24 Hearing on Bill
March 24, 2021
(Los Angeles, CA) Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta and Hollywood actor Mauricio Ochmann partnered with Compassion & Choices Action Network to launch videos today to urge California legislators pass Senate Bill 380 to improve access to the End of Life Option Act and make it permanent.
“I watched my mother die from a horrible, painful cancer, and she had a lot of suffering before she passed away,” Huerta said in her video. “The Dolores Huerta Foundation is very proud in supporting this end-of-life legislation [SB 380]. It is very important that we keep it in California. We hope and pray that the California Legislature will continue to keep these options open for everyone. Please urge your lawmakers to pass end-of-life options by visiting www.compassionchoices.org”
“We can not allow the End of Life Option Act to expire at the end of 2025,” Ochmann said. “We must keep this compassionate law so terminally ill Californians, including Latinos, and those in underserved communities, are not forced to suffer at the end of their lives.”
The release of the videos is timely because the California Senate Health Committee is scheduled to hold a March 24 hearing on SB 380, authored by Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton). The legislation would remove regulatory roadblocks to access of 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.
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 end unbearable suffering. The legislation included a provision that would expire at the end of 2025 unless new legislation is passed.
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. Among other things, SB 380 would:
- Waive the End of Life Option Act’s mandatory 15-day waiting period for qualified terminally ill patients between the two oral requests for aid-in-dying medication if the physician determines they will not survive that long. (Oregon enacted legislation to waive its 15-day waiting period).
- Require that healthcare facilities provide accurate information about the End of Life Option Act and put their policies on their websites to increase transparency.
- Eliminate the End of Life Option Act’s scheduled expiration date at the end of 2025.
For the last six years, Huerta and Ochmann have advocated for passing and improving access to medical aid-in-dying laws. Both are members of Compassion & Choices’ Latino Leadership Council. Supported in part by Compassion & Choices Action Network, the council successfully did outreach to underserved communities that was key to winning campaigns to pass laws authorizing medical aid in dying in California in 2015, and Colorado and the District of Columbia in 2016.
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