Sacramento, CA, April 21, 2021 – Compassion & Choices Action Network applauded the California State Senate Judiciary Committee for their support in moving Senate Bill 380 out of committee and closer to passage. SB 380, co-authored by Sen. Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) and Asm. Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), would improve access to the California End of Life Option Act and make it permanent. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the measure in a 8-0 vote (as of 4:45 pm yesterday). The Senate Health Committee had previously approved SB 380 in an 8-1 vote. The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The End of Life Option Act gives mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live the option to request prescription medication they can decide to take to peacefully end unbearable suffering. The legislation included a provision that would expire at the end of 2025 unless new legislation is passed.
“The Senate Judiciary Committee’s approval of SB 380 brings us one step closer to improving and making permanent the California End of Life Option Act ” said Kim Callinan, President and CEO of the Compassion & Choices Action Network. “I applaud the Senate Judiciary Committee for recognizing the peace of mind that this act affords terminally ill Californians and advancing SB380 to the Senate Appropriations Committee.”
SB 380 would remove regulatory roadblocks to accessing the End of Life Option Act that impede or prevent hundreds of qualified terminally ill Californians from using medical aid-in-dying to peacefully end their suffering. It would make several important improvements to the California End of Life Option Act, which took effect in 2016, including:
- Eliminate the original law’s sunset clause, making it a permanent statute.
- Reduce the mandatory minimum 15-day waiting period between the two oral requests for aid-in-dying medication to 48 hours for all eligible patients. (New Mexico’s governor signed similar medical aid-in-dying legislation into law on April 8 that requires a 48-hour waiting period between the time the prescription is written and when it is filled.)
- Healthcare systems and hospices would have to post their medical aid-in-dying policies on their websites, increasing transparency.
Since the End of Life Option Act took effect on June 9, 2016, data collected by the California Department of Public Health through December 31, 2019, shows that nearly 2,000 mentally capable, terminally ill individuals with six months or less to live have received a prescription for medical aid-in-dying medication to peacefully end unbearable suffering.
A study by Kaiser Permanente Southern California shows one-third of terminally ill adults who request to use the End of Life Option Act die before completing the time-consuming process, which includes a 15-day waiting period and often takes weeks or months to finish. Using this one-third ratio, nearly 1,000 individuals statewide have died before obtaining a prescription (approximately 275 people on an annual basis) vs. the nearly 2,000 who completed the process and received prescriptions for medical aid-in-dying.
For more information, here is a fact sheet about SB 380.
Compassion & Choices is comprised of two organizations that improve care and expand options at life’s end: Compassion & Choices (501(c)(3)) educates, empowers, defends, and advocates; the Compassion & Choices Action Network (501(c)(4)) focuses exclusively on legislation, ballot campaigns, and limited electoral work.