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California Senate Judiciary Committee Passes SB 128, End of Life Option Act

April 9, 2015

The California Senate Judiciary Committee on April 7 approved Senate Bill 128, California End of Life Option Act, on a 5 to 2 vote.

With the vote, California took another step towards providing Death with Dignity as an end of life option to its 39 million citizens.

We applaud Senators Lois Wolk, Bill Monning, and others for sponsoring legislation whose time has come. We were pleased to play an integral role in the drafting and deliberations of the bill, and honored to speak before the Committee on the Oregon experience and our exemplary implementation of the law.

The End of Life Option Act will next be considered in the Senate Appropriations Committee, with a hearing to take place in May. In the meantime, we will continue to work with the bill sponsors to promote the bill’s passage.

Help make this bill become law!

  • Thank the Senators voting Aye. The bill moved out of this committee by a vote of 5 to 2, along party lines. Please contact Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (Chair, D-Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties), Senator Robert M. Hertzberg (D-LA/San Fernando), Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), or Senator Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont/Alameda and Santa Clara Counties) (Senator Bill Monning, SB 128 co-sponsor, also voted in favor) to exppress your appreciation for their vote, especially if you live in their district.
  • Thank the bill sponsors. Call, email, or send a letter to SB 128 sponsors, Senators Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and Lois Wolk (D-Davis) in appreciation of their leadership on the issue. Or use our online Thank You card below.
  • Share your story. Heartfelt personal stories were a crucial part of the Committee testimony in favor of the End of Life Option Act. Please fill out this simple form to let us know how you got involved in the Death with Dignity movement or why you support California’s proposed legislation.
  • Make a contribution. We remain optimistic the law will pass, but for that to happen we need your support. It is thanks to you that we are able to do our work in promoting Death with Dignity laws in California and elsewhere. Your gift will stay in California and help promote SB 128 as it moves through the legislative process. Thank you.

About SB 128, California End of Life Option Act

The California End of Life Option Act closely follows the model of the Oregon Death with Dignity Act with some modifications, most of which are required to comply with the California statute. Similar to the Oregon law, the California End of Life Option Act provides that only qualified, terminally ill adults who are residents of California may request and obtain prescriptions from their physician for medication that the patient has the capability to self-administer. A person may not qualify solely because of age or disability.

In order to receive the prescription the terminally ill patient is required to have two physicians confirm the patient’s prognosis of six months or less to live and that the patient has the mental competency to make health care decisions for him or herself. Two oral requests to be made to a physician, a minimum of 15 days apart, in addition to one written request with two witnesses attesting to the request before the prescription can be written.

In addition, the proposed bill includes voluntary participation by doctors, pharmacists and healthcare facilities, safeguards against any coercion of patients by establishing felony penalties for coercing or forging a request, and a patient’s right to rescind the request.

Featured image by Alex Proimos.

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Afterword: Physician-Assisted Dying Concepts

Terminal 41-Year-Old Throws Party before Using California’s New Aid in Dying Bill

California’s End of Life Option Act only took effect this June, but already terminally ill patients are using its provisions to end their life on their terms. One story in that of Betsy Davis, a 41-year-old who had been living with ALS for 3 years. A performance artist who had lost much of her ability to control her own body, she invited 30 of her closest friends to a house in the mountains for a final weekend of sharing, laughs, and memories. After they departed, Betsy took the medication she was able to procure through the aid in dying bill, and died peacefully within 4 hours. One friend said of her choice, "By taking charge, she turned her departure into a work of art."