California Right-to-Die Law Saw 111 People Kill Themselves in First Six Months

California State Data on End of Life Option Act Confirms It is Working Well

111 Terminally Ill People Took Their Own Lives in 1st 6 Months of California's Right-to-Die Law

A newly released report by the California Department of Health accounts for the terminally ill individuals who participated in the state's assisted suicide program between June 9 and December 31.

The report released on Tuesday indicated that between June 9 and Dec. 31, 2016, 191 people with six months or fewer to live received life-ending prescriptions under the law, though 111 of them had taken the pills by the end of the reporting period in December.

The CDPH says of the 111 people who died, more than 87% were over 60 years of age. The report-from the California Department of Public Health-found that about two-thirds of those who died had cancer, most often lung cancer and breast cancer.

"Any unused drug that is prescribed for aid in dying has to be returned in person to either the pharmacy where it was purchased to be destroyed or to another (government-designated) place where it can be destroyed", said Bob Davila, spokesman for the California State Board of Pharmacy.

Writing the lethal prescriptions is completely voluntary for doctors and medical facilities, and some, including all Catholic and church-affiliated hospitals, have not allowed their physicians to prescribe such medicines. Of those, 133 people died from ingesting the drugs, including 19 recipients from prior years.

A lot of them were white, college educated, had health insurance provided by either private or state carriers, and were receiving hospice or palliative care. A majority (59%) had been diagnosed with cancer.

A total of 173 doctors filled out prescriptions for the life-ending drugs.

California officials said caution should be exercised in trying to draw conclusions from the report that is based on only six months of data.

California's End of Life Option Act gained national attention after Brittany Maynard - a woman who was diagnosed with a stage 4 malignant brain tumor - moved from California to Oregon in order to legally obtain life-ending medication to die under the Oregon Death With Dignity Act. He said, "Basically it mirrors the experience in OR".

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