Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom announces support for California's End of Life Option Act

06-04-15

(Sacramento) - California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom today announced his support for California's End of Life Option Act, a bill to authorize the medical practice of aid-in-dying in California. SB 128, jointly authored by State Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel) will be voted on by the full membership of the State Senate today.

"The moments that mark the end of life should be spent beside loved ones in a familiar place, with peace and dignity, and I'm grateful to Senator Wolk and Senator Monning for their leadership on this difficult and important issue," said California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. "I support the End of Life Option Act, which offers sensible and humane public policy to an immensely personal decision and I am reassured by the protections in this legislation for vulnerable patients and doctors alike."

The End of Life Option Act will establish criteria for a patient who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness that must be met prior to being prescribed medication. SB 128 is modeled on statutes in other states where the aid-in-dying option is currently provided. The bill includes the following:

  • Only adults with terminal diseases who are residents of California may request and obtain prescriptions from their physician for medication that the patient has the capability to self-administer.
  • Two separate physicians are required to confirm the patient's prognosis of six months or less to live and that the patient has the mental capacity to make their own health care decisions.
  • Two oral requests are required to be made by a patient with a terminal disease 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 is written.
  • Patients maintain the right to rescind their request for the medication at any time. Only the patient may administer the medication.
  • Safeguards against any coercion of patients with felony penalties for coercing or forging a request.
  • The attending physician is required to discuss feasible alternatives or additional treatment alternatives with the patient, including, but not limited to, comfort care, hospice care, palliative care, and pain management.
  • Healthcare providers are protected from civil or criminal liability, and from professional disciplinary action, if they fulfill a terminal, mentally-competent individual's request.
  • Participation by patients and healthcare providers is voluntary.
  • No insurance policy may be conditioned upon or affected by a person choosing to request aid-in-dying medication.
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