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California's medical aid-in-dying law goes into effect Thursday. (kzenon/iStockphoto)

Medical Aid in Dying Becomes Legal in California Today

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Starting today, medical aid in dying, also known as assisted suicide, becomes legal in California. Mentally competent, terminally ill patients are able to seek a prescription from their doctor that allows them to die peacefully in their sleep.

Elizabeth Wallner, a single mom from Sacramento with stage four colon cancer, said just having the prescription is a relief, whether she ends up using it or not.

“Death itself doesn’t really scare me,” she said. “What scares me the most is dying slowly and painfully and traumatizing my beloved son, Nathaniel, my parents and siblings and the other people in my life, whom I love.”

End-of-life advocates expect 1,500 Californians to ask their doctor for the prescription right away and another 34,000 patients a year to inquire about the process.

Matt Whitaker, California state director, of the nonprofit group Compassion and Choices, said patients in California no longer have to move to another state to pursue this option.

“Feel empowered to begin these conversations with your physician now,” he said. “Feel empowered to talk about your wishes around your end-of-life process. Take control of your care.”

The majority of non-religiously affiliated hospitals are allowing their physicians to participate, including systems run by local counties, Kaiser, Sutter, and the University of California.

Dr. Catherine Sonquist MD, MPH, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine and Family Medicine and Medical Director of Stanford Health Care-Los Altos said physicians need to assess their patients’ mental health, prior treatment, and terminal diagnosis.

“Helping guide our patients through their terminal illness and end-of-life care must be done with caring and skill,” she said.

California becomes the fourth state to authorize medical aid in dying, after Oregon, Washington Montana and Vermont.

More information can be found online here.

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One comment

  1. Correction please:
    Your source has done you a disservice. The promoters of assisted suicide have worn out their thesaurus attempting to imply that it is legal in Montana. Assisted suicide is a homicide in Montana. Our MT Supreme Court did ruled that if a doctor is charged with a homicide they might have a potential defense based on consent. They acknowledged it is a homicide in the ruling.

    The Court did not address civil liabilities and they vacated the lower court’s claim that it was a constitutional right. Unlike Oregon no one in Montana has immunity from civil or criminal prosecution and investigations are not prohibited like Oregon. Does that sound legal to you?

    Perhaps the promotors are frustrated that even though they were the largest lobbying spender in Montana their Oregon model legalizing assisted suicide bills have been rejected in Montana in 2011, 2013 and 2015.

    Your source have also done the public a disservice. Their ordinary bait and switch campaign is demonstrated by their selling “must self-administer” then they do not provide in their legislation for an ordinary witness of the “self-administration”. This omission eviscerates the flaunted safeguards putting the entire population at risk of exploitation.
    Respectfully submitted,
    Bradley Williams
    President
    Mtaas dot org

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