Californians terminated lives under aid-in-dying law past year

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California's End of Life Option Act went into effect June 9, 2016, allowing assisted suicide in the state after years of contentious debate.

More than 100 people have legally ended their lives since California enacted a right-to-die law a year ago, according to a new report. However, only 111 people of the 191 had actually taken the pills by the end of the reporting period.

That's the number of California residents who committed suicide in 2016 with the help of doctor-prescribed drugs under the state's new aid-in-dying law, according to a first-of-its-kind report released late Tuesday.

Roughly 75% of the 111 who successfully ended their own lives were between 60-89 years of age, and 89.5% were white.

Alexandra Snyder, an attorney for Life Legal Defense Foundation and critic of the law, told the Times that there is no way to determine whether a patient was coerced into taking the drug.

Satistics on those taking their lives appeared in some respects to mirror those in OR, which was the first state to legalize the practice nearly 20 years ago, according to the Los Angeles Times. It also showed about 80 percent of private insurance companies have covered the cost of medication, including Blue Cross, Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter, many local health plans and all Medi-Cal plans. The patient must verbally ask for the lethal prescription to a doctor twice and with at least 15 days between each request.

"The state's data show that even during the early months of the law's implementation, the law was working well and terminally ill Californians were able to take comfort in knowing that they had this option to peacefully end intolerable suffering", he said in a statement.

California is among a handful of other states that permit doctor-assisted deaths, including Montana, Colorado, Oregon, Washington D.C., Washington state and Vermont.

Compassion & Choices is the oldest nonprofit working to improve care and expand options for the end of life in the United States, with 450,000 members nationwide.

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