Months after Gov. Jerry Brown signed landmark legislation allowing terminally patients to request life-ending medications from their physicians, the End of Life Option Act will finally be put into effect on June 9. That’s 90 days after a special legislative session on health care ended earlier this month.
So what does this new law imply?
Simply, as stated earlier, the terminally ill can request life-ending medications from their physicians. This law requires that two doctor agree that the patient has indeed only six months or less to live before prescribing the drugs. Patients must be able to swallow the drug by themselves and must affirm in writing 48 hours before taking it that they will do so. Although the law has received a great deal of support especially from those experiencing terminal illness or those with terminally ill loved ones, it is not without opponents. One of the groups who fought hard against the passage of the act, the Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, feared that this new law will be a gateway for abuse. The group plans to focus on protecting people from abuse and coercion and educating medical professionals and pharmacists about their right to opt out.
However, some terminally ill patients are relieved. A patient with stage 4 colon cancer, Elizabeth Wallner, said it gives her “peace of mind to know that I will not be forced to die slowly and painfully.”