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Health Care Policy and Law
July 2017

Early Experience With the California End of Life Option ActBalancing Institutional Participation and Physician Conscientious Objection

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Medicine, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California
  • 2Center for Biomedical Ethics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, California
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(7):907-908. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2017.1485

Effective since June 9, 2016, the California End of Life Option Act allows physicians to provide prescriptions for a lethal dose of medication to patients with a terminal illness, decision-making capacity, and a prognosis of less than 6 months to live. The patient can ingest the medication and end his or her life.1 The act outlines specific processes for physicians, patients, and health care systems to ensure that patients to whom the law applies receive all needed information regarding their options for end-of-life care and are neither impaired nor coerced into making such a profound decision. Although similar to laws in Oregon and Washington, the California law will sunset in 10 years if the state takes no further action. In the 2016 elections, Colorado became the sixth state to pass such legislation.

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