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Three in Four Californians Support State’s End of Life Option Act

New data shows wide-ranging favor across all demographics.

A comprehensive statewide survey commissioned by the California Health Care Foundation shows decisive support for the End of Life Option Act, California’s medical aid-in-dying law. The act has been in effect since June 2016.

Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman, who sponsored the act, said, “This new data is significant in showing how widespread and sustained support for the End of Life Option Act is. Across race and income, Californians want the full range of end-of-life options.” 

Key findings include: 

  • Three in 4 Californians surveyed support the End of Life Option Act, the California state law that gives some terminally ill adults the option to take life-ending medication prescribed by a physician. 
  • About 9 in 10 Californians without a serious illness reported that they would like as much information as possible from their healthcare provider if they had a serious illness. Results were consistent across income levels and racial/ethnic groups.
  • About 4 in 5 Californians surveyed said they would want to talk with their doctor about their wishes for medical treatment toward the end of life. Older adults, black respondents, women and white respondents were most likely to say they would definitely want to talk with their doctor about their wishes.
  • Many survey respondents reported that their loved ones did not pass away in their preferred location. Nearly 2 in 3 respondents reported that their loved ones would have preferred to die at home, while only 4 in 10 were able to do so. In contrast, nearly 4 in 10 died in the hospital, which was the preferred location for less than 1 in 10 loved ones.

“As most people will experience serious illness at some point in their lives, this research is an important step in understanding what Californians want and need most in end-of-life care,” said Samantha Trad, Compassion & Choices California state director. “These results reinforce the fact that the majority of Californians want the option of a peaceful death in their final days of a terminal illness and underscore the vital shift toward patient-driven end-of-life care.” 

Liz Knapp, a California resident whose father utilized medical aid in dying this past June, echoed the importance of expanded options for dying: “I am deeply grateful for the experience my family had with the End of Life Option Act. We had many conversations about death with my father, Ed, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer last year. Dad got to write his own story, and he didn’t have to struggle in his last moments.”


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