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California’s medical aid in dying law, the End of Life Option Act (EOLOA), has helped some terminally-ill Californians have a peaceful death. SB 380 will give more people this option.

Senate Bill 380 Becomes California Law

In October of 2021, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Senate Bill 380, a bill designed to streamline the state’s process of approving requests by terminally ill patients to legally end their lives via prescribed medication.

A 2018 study by Kaiser Permanente Southern California found that roughly one-third of the nearly 400 terminally ill people who requested the lethal prescription from their doctors died during the 15-day waiting period. SB 380 reduces the previous 15-day waiting period between requests for Medical Aid in Dying to 48 hours and requires health care providers to post their MAID policies on their websites.

Gov. Newsom signed SB 380 six years to the day after former Gov. Jerry Brown signed California’s End of Life Option Act, which first gave terminally ill, mentally competent adults the option of ending their life with prescribed medication. The new amendments to the EOLOA provided by SB 380 will take effect after Jan 1, 2022.

While HSSD applauds the passage of SB 380, it is important to remember that in most progressive nations of Western Europe and Canada, individuals do not need a terminal diagnosis to access MAID. Instead, they must have a serious illness, disease, or disability that puts them in an advanced state of decline that cannot be reversed and causes intractable suffering. Until California adopts this more enlightened criterion for MAID, HSSD will continue to crusade for California to become a progressive state as so many of its leaders proclaim it to be. We still have work to do.

We thank our many Hemlock members and friends who made phone calls, wrote letters, and sent emails to the California State Legislature and Gov. Newsom urging passage of SB 380. Your voices made an important difference.

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