Beginning in June 2016, California has a new law allowing doctors to prescribe a lethal dose of drugs to terminally ill patients who wish to die on their own terms. Joining Oregon, Washington and Vermont, California will dramatically expand the number of people to whom assisted suicide will be available. But the law contains significant safeguards and restrictions on its use. Here are a few points to consider:
- The patient must have less than six months to live, as confirmed by two different doctors.
- The patient must be a resident of California and able to prove it with a drivers license, tax return, voter registration or other similar evidence.
- This option will only be available to patients whose mental capacity is not impaired. Thus, patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia are not eligible.
- The patient must personally make a verbal request to their doctor twice, at least 15 days apart, and must also make a written request.
- This option cannot be exercised for the patient by an agent designated under an Advance Health Care Directive or other power of attorney.
- The patient must be physically able to self-administer the lethal dose. You cannot ask someone else to give you the drugs.