End-of-Life Care Group Praises California Senate for Passing Bill to Keep and Improve California’s End of Life Option Act
May 28, 2021
(Sacramento, CA) Compassion & Choices Action Network today praised the California Senate for passing SB 380 (26-8), a bill that would improve access to California’s End of Life Option Act and make it permanent. Senate Bill 380, co-authored by Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and Asm. Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), now moves to the California State Assembly.
The End of Life Option Act, which was enacted into law in 2015 and took effect in 2016, allows mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live to have the option to request prescription medication they can decide to take to peacefully end unbearable suffering. The Act included a provision that would make the law expire at the end of 2025 unless new legislation is passed.
“We thank Senator Susan Talamantes Eggman and all the members of the California Senate who recognized the importance of improving and making permanent the California End of Life Option Act,” said Samantha Trad, California senior campaign director for Compassion & Choices Action Network. “California’s legislature has taken a bold and compassionate step towards bringing peace of mind to many terminally ill Californians and their families. We look forward to working with the Assembly to pass this important bill and deliver it to Governor “Newsom’s desk.”
SB 380 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 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 legislation 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 individuals with six months or less to live have received a prescription for aid-in-dying medication 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.
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 process 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.
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, 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