California Aid in Dying Law

End of Life Options Act of 2015

Having been passed by the Legislature in September 2015 and signed by the Governor in October 2015, California’s End of Life Options Act (AB 15) became law effective June 9, 2016.

In short, the End of Life Options Act of 2015 has three main elements:

1. The law grants patients who satisfy specified criteria the legal right to request, receive, and self-ingest aid-in-dying drugs, i.e., medications whose sole purpose is to bring about the patient’s death.

2. The law details a rigorous process that includes steps to be followed by the patient, at least two physicians (the patient’s attending physician and an independent consulting physician, both of which are specifically defined for this law), and, possibly, a mental health specialist. The process also requires a variety of documentation including several forms (to be completed by the patient and the physicians) which are to be submitted (by the attending physician) to the California Department of Public Health.

3. The law allows healthcare providers, for reasons of conscience, morality, or ethics, not to participate in any or all of the following five specified activities associated with the above-mentioned process:

a. serving as an attending physicians as defined for the law;
b. serving as a consulting physician as defined for the law;
c. serving as a mental health specialist as defined for the law;
d. prescribing, dispensing, and delivering aid-in-dying medication;
e. being present when a patient ingests aid-in-dying medication.

Given the complexities associated with each of the above three elements, both patients and healthcare providers may have many questions. There are a number of resources available via the Internet for answering such questions, including:

Also, in terms of the step-by-step process that must be followed, below are the forms that must be utilized if engaging in the specified process detailed by the Law (these forms are legally required without exception if an aid-in-dying drug is to be prescribed).

For patients who may be considering this option for themselves, as is always the case when considering one’s own medical options, patients should talk with their physicians or other trusted healthcare providers.

Cedars-Sinai healthcare providers may also find pertinent information via the CSMC Intranet by searching "CA Aid-in-Dying Law."

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