People Legally Died Under California's New End of Life Option Act

Debbie Ziegler mother of Brittany Maynard speaks to the media after the passage of legislation which would allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives at the state Capitol in Sacramento Calif. C

The End of Life Option Act went into force last June and allows terminally ill adults to obtain and self-administer life-ending drugs from their doctors.

In the first six months since California's right-to-die law was implemented, 111 people used it to take their own lives, according to data released Tuesday by the California Department of Public Health. The law also states that doctors themselves should not prescribe the drug to them until n unless patients demand it.

According to data between June 9- December 31 of 2016, 191 people received aid-in-dying drugs under the act and 111 people died after taking the prescribed drugs. The remaining 80 patients' outcomes were either unreported or died for reasons unrelated to taking the drug. The report noted that 173 physicians prescribed lethal drugs to 191 patients previous year.

Matt Whitaker, California director of Compassion & Choices, an organization aiming to improve patient's medical rights, expressed his support for the law after the report's findings.

Most people who took the aid-in-dying drugs were white, more precisely 102 out of 111.

In California, 191 prescriptions for life-ending drugs were written for terminally ill patients as of the end of December, even though only 111 of those patients had used the drugs by that point. We so find some parts in California that stood in opposition to the law.

Alexandra Snyder, an attorney with Life Legal Defense Foundation and an opponent of the right-to-die law, told the Times that California has effectively decriminalized assisted suicide.

Doctor-assisted deaths were attributed to six of every 10,000 California deaths in the six-month reporting period, according to the state's Health Department.

Neuromuscular disorders, such as Parkinson's Disease and ALS, were the second largest underlying illness among those who took their own lives under the law, totaling 18 percent of the group. Fifty-nine percent of those who died were suffering from cancer.

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