California Governor Signs 'End of Life Option Act' Into Law

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 • by Gene Newman

On October 5, 2015 California Govenor Jerry Brown signed Bill ABx2 15 titled "End of Life Option Act" into law, which gives terminally ill patients the option to end their own life. One of the key points:

An adult who meets certain qualifications, and who has been determined by his or her attending physician to be suffering from a terminal disease, as defined, to make a request for a drug prescribed pursuant to these provisions for the purpose of ending his or her life.

The Bill takes measures to shield those involved from civil or criminal liability "solely because the person was present when the qualified individual self-administered the drug, or the person assisted the qualified individual by preparing the aid-in-dying drug so long as the person did not assist with the ingestion of the drug."

Govenor Brown included a signing message to the California State Assemby explaining why he made the decision:

To the Members of the California State Assembly:

ABx2 15 is not an ordinary bill because it deals with life and death. The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering.

I have carefully read the thoughtful opposition materials presented by a number of doctors, religious leaders and those who champion disability rights. I have considered the theological and religious perspectives that any deliberate shortening of one’s life is sinful.

I have also read the letters of those who support the bill, including heartfelt pleas from Brittany Maynard’s family and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In addition, I have discussed this matter with a Catholic Bishop, two of my own doctors and former classmates and friends who take varied, contradictory and nuanced positions.

In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death.

I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.

Sincerely,
Edmund G. Brown, Jr.

Here's the format of the form to request an aid-in-dying drug:

REQUEST FOR AN AID-IN-DYING DRUG TO END MY LIFE IN A HUMANE AND DIGNIFIED MANNER I, ......................................................, am an adult of sound mind and a resident of the State of California.


I am suffering from ................, which my attending physician has determined is in its terminal phase and which has been medically confirmed.


I have been fully informed of my diagnosis and prognosis, the nature of the aid-in-dying drug to be prescribed and potential associated risks, the expected result, and the feasible alternatives or additional treatment options, including comfort care, hospice care, palliative care, and pain control.


I request that my attending physician prescribe an aid-in-dying drug that will end my life in a humane and dignified manner if I choose to take it, and I authorize my attending physician to contact any pharmacist about my request.


INITIAL ONE:
............ I have informed one or more members of my family of my decision and taken their opinions into consideration.
............ I have decided not to inform my family of my decision.
............ I have no family to inform of my decision.


I understand that I have the right to withdraw or rescind this request at any time.


I understand the full import of this request and I expect to die if I take the aid-in-dying drug to be prescribed. My attending physician has counseled me about the possibility that my death may not be immediately upon the consumption of the drug.


I make this request voluntarily, without reservation, and without being coerced.


Signed:..............................................
Dated:...............................................


DECLARATION OF WITNESSES
We declare that the person signing this request:
(a) is personally known to us or has provided proof of identity;
(b) voluntarily signed this request in our presence;
(c) is an individual whom we believe to be of sound mind and not under duress, fraud, or undue influence; and
(d) is not an individual for whom either of us is the attending physician, consulting physician, or mental health specialist.
............................Witness 1/Date
............................Witness 2/Date


NOTE: Only one of the two witnesses may be a relative (by blood, marriage, registered domestic partnership, or adoption) of the person signing this request or be entitled to a portion of the person’s estate upon death. Only one of the two witnesses may own, operate, or be employed at a health care facility where the person is a patient or resident.


Related: State-By-State Death With Dignity Legislation | Terminal Patients Have The Right To Die in New Mexico