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Monday, January 25, 2016

California's Newly Enacted Right to Die Law

What You Should Know...

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, the decisions ahead may feel overwhelming. Emotional and physical struggles likely compete with legal affairs and the complexity of it all can feel unbearable. California's Right to Die Law attempts to give you the freedom, within certain boundaries, to make such an important personal decision.

If a patient wishes to end their life under this law, there are several conditions that must first be met by the individual (note that this list is not meant to be exhaustive):

1. be an adult (18+),
2. be diagnosed by an attending physician with a "terminal disease" defined as: "an incurable and irreversible disease that has been medically confirmed and will, within reasonable medical judgment, result in death within 6- months,"
3. voluntarily express the wish to receive a prescription for an aid-in-dying drug,
4. provide documentation that they are a California resident,
5. submit two oral requests, a minimum of 15 days apart, and a written request to their attending physician, and
6. have the physical and mental ability to self-administer the aid-in-dying drug.

Once the individual has fulfilled the above requirements, the attending physician must adhere to a list mandated by the state (again, not a complete list):

1. ascertaining the mental competency of the patient,
2. sharing other options for care (such as hospice, pain control, comfort care, etc.),
3. determine that the individual was not coerced into making this decision,
4. explaining the probable result and potential risks of ingesting the aid-in-dying drug, and
5. stating that the individual can decline to take the drug at any time during this process.

If this is a path you or a loved one are considering, we offer you our thoughts and prayers. If we can provide assistance in helping you put your legal affairs in order, please reach out to us.


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