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Calif. Aid-In-Dying Law Helps 111 Patients End Lives In First Six Months

A portrait of Brittany Maynard sits on the dais of the Senate Health Committe...

Credit: Associated Press

Above: A portrait of Brittany Maynard sits on the dais of the Senate Health Committee as lawmakers heard testimony on proposed legislation allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients, at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., March 25, 2015.


Dr. Ted Mazer, president-elect, California Medical Association


In the first six months since California's aid-in-dying law went into effect, 111 terminally ill patients ended their lives with prescription medication, according to a report from state health officials last month.

California doctors wrote prescriptions for 191 patients between June 9 to Dec. 31, 2016, though 21 died before taking the drugs. Information on the remaining 59 patients were not reported in 2016.

The Los Angeles Times noted that despite California's greater diversity compared to Oregon, which passed the country's first aid-in-dying law nearly 20 years ago, most of the patients who died under the laws in both states last year were white and college-educated. Ninety percent of the patients who died under the law in California were white and nearly 60 percent had a college degree.

Compassion & Choices, an advocacy group that backed California's law, said it expects more patients will use the law this year. More than 500 terminally ill patients received prescriptions under the law since June 2016, the group said, based on requests to its doctor consultation program.

Dr. Ted Mazer, president-elect of the California Medical Association, joined KPBS Midday Edition on Wednesday to discuss how many doctors are willing to write these prescriptions and continued opposition to the End of Life Options Act.


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