California End of Life Act Option- What to know?

Yes, we are talking about the End of Life Option Act. According to this law, patients with a terminal illness can request their doctors for drugs to end their lives.

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This law might sound absurd and illogical at first. But it does exist. Yes, we are talking about the California End of Life Option Act. According to this law, people with a terminal illness can request their doctors for drugs to end their lives. So, accordingly, this law dictates that a patient who chooses to die this way is not committing suicide.

This is because they are following the law and choosing this path voluntarily. Physicians and doctors who assist in such will also not be held liable for the patient’s death as long as they follow the rules carefully.

The Act got the green signal in June 2016. And California is only the fifth state in the United States with such a law. The then governor of California, Jeremy Brown, was at the helm when this law was enacted.

Let us find out more about this Act.

Who is this Act for?

A person who chooses such physician-assisted suicide must meet the following criteria:

  • This Act applies exclusively to Californian residents suffering from some terminal illness.
  • The patient should be 18 years and above to qualify for this lethal dose.
  • Any person who chooses to go through with this option should decide independently. And they should administer the drug themselves.
  • The patient should be suffering from an incurable illness or disease.
  • The patient should have six months left or less before natural death.
  • One must be physically able to request and self-administer this drug.
  • Patients should not be suffering from mental disabilities of any kind. This rule is vital as mentally-challenged people can often make improper judgments, making their requests invalid.

What criteria do the patient and physician need to understand before proceeding?

Before going through with this option, the patient and healthcare providers must complete the following formalities:

  • The concerned physician must approve that their patient is terminally ill and has little less than six months to live.
  • There should be a thorough discussion about this process between the patient and physician. The doctor should also provide counseling and make an effort to change the patient’s decision. They should also offer alternatives to physician-assisted death.
  • The patient should consult two to three physicians to confirm their diagnosis and mental health. This is to ensure transparency between all parties.
  • Patients should make two oral requests with a gap of at least 15 days. Plus, they should submit another request in written form. Such forms are provided by the State and registered under the presence of two non-related adults. None of the medical staff should be present as well during this signing.
  • Before administering the drug, patients should sign another self-attested form. This form states that they are fully aware of all the consequences and alternatives.
  • Patients can collect the prescription themselves or request someone else to do it. The drug is then stored until they can use it.

Other essential features to note:

  • Physicians who provide, approve, or participate in this procedure will not be held liable. But of course, they must do this by the book.
  • It is not compulsory for a doctor or healthcare provider to participate in this case. They always have the option to quit should they choose to.
  • The law also allows another person to assist the patient in preparing the medication.
  • Any person who aids or witnesses the process is not held liable and is provided immunity.
  • Lethal injection is prohibited under the End of Life Option Act.
  • Patients who die from this deadly dose are not considered suicide. The illness is listed as the primary cause of death.

Final Verdict

Every individual has the right to one’s own life choices. And if someone with chronic or terminal illness wants to cut their life short, we need to respect that. But the End of Life Option Act also has its fair share of ups and downs. On one side, we have many people who are totally against it. And on the other, we have those who support it.

Many patients should have access to palliative care. Due to a shortage of palliative experts or knowledge, patients end up choosing the shortcuts. If patients receive special medical care and counseling, it can significantly improve their lives.

And most importantly, to remember, it gives them a chance to live the rest of their lives with faith and a fighting chance.

Our Inspiration

Everyone has the right to make choices, even that difficult choices.