NPR, June 8, 2017
Stephanie O'Neill


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[...] In the year since California's End of Life Option Act took effect on June 9, 2016, at least 500 Californians have received life-ending prescriptions, according to newly released data collected by Compassion and Choices, a nonprofit advocacy group working to pass aid-in-dying laws nationwide.

The organization reports that, throughout California, nearly 500 hospitals and health systems, more than 100 hospice organizations and 80 percent of insurers now participate. The California law created a process that allows dying patients to ask their doctors for a lethal prescription that they can then take privately, at home.

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John Minor with his daughter Jackie Minor on July 4, 1982, in Virginia Lakes, Calif. Jackie calls her dad's death in his sleep last September "very peaceful."

Courtesy of the Minor family

"What the numbers are showing is that the law is working incredibly well," says Matt Whitaker, who directs Compassion and Choice's work in California and Oregon, which also has an aid-in-dying law. "It's working as the lawmakers intended."

Still, for a number of patients in California, finding a doctor willing to prescribe the life-ending drugs can be difficult, in part because the state's law allows doctors to opt out of prescribing, even when the hospital where they work participates in the law. [...]

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