California recently passed a law allowing a doctor to prescribe a life-ending drug for a terminal patient. It is the California End of Life Option Act, and it comes into effect this June. This law brings to five the number of states allowing end-of-life decisions (California, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and Montana).
Under the California law, an adult with capacity may request a prescription for an aid-in-dying drug if:
- The individual’s attending physician has diagnosed the individual with a terminal disease (less than 6 months to live), and a consulting physician confirms this diagnosis;
- The individual has voluntarily expressed the wish to receive a prescription for an aid-in-dying drug;
- The individual is a resident of California (California driver’s license, voter registration, income tax return or other evidence);
- The individual documents his request pursuant to the requirements set forth in the statute, which include at least two separate oral requests at least 15 days apart and a written request; and
- The individual has the physical and mental ability to self-administer the aid-in-dying drug.
A request for the prescription may not be made through a power of attorney, agent or other source. The request must be made directly by the individual diagnosed with the terminal disease. The individual may withdraw or rescind his request for the aid-in-dying drug at any time, regardless of the individual’s mental state. In other words, even if the person no longer has capacity, he may decide not to go through with the use of the aid-in-dying drug.Consult your estate planning attorney for further information.