Betsy Davis, of Ojai, diagnosed with ALS in 2013, was one of the first to take her life legally under the state law approved a year ago Friday, June 9. She began the process the day after state legislators passed it in what Gov. Jerry Brown called an “extraordinary session.”
It’s not known how many people have followed her.
According to the national nonprofit Compassion & Choices, since June 9, 2016, at least 504 terminally ill adults in California have received prescriptions for lethal drugs. The group does not know how many of them actually ingested the drugs, which range from Seconal, a sedative that costs around $3,500 per prescribed dose, to a combination of a sedative and a drug that stops the heart, for about $600.
While the path has been straightforward for some, for many other terminally ill Californians the End of Life Option Act has led to a desperate race against the clock — with patients’ families frantically searching to find the required two physicians that patients must work with to get the drugs. The law also mandates a 15-day waiting period between the two oral requests they must submit, one to each doctor, further slowing the process.
Opponents of the law say they still have questions about its implementation and how it will affect vulnerable patients.
“We are still very concerned, particularly given surrounding health care — at the state and federal level — and how that could impact patients,” said Tim Rosales, spokesman for Californians Against Assisted Suicide.
Some patients say the law has made it more difficult for them to get necessary, life-saving treatment.
Stephanie Packer of Orange, who was diagnosed with terminal lung disease and lupus, says since the End of Life Option Act passed, she has had trouble getting treatment and medication. Packer has been a vocal opponent, speaking on behalf of the Catholic Church on this issue.
Packer, a 34-year-old mother of four, says she asked her insurance company if she was covered for assisted death.
“They told me I was, for a co-pay of $1.20,” she said. “This should not be happening to patients, but it is.”
Full story at Orange County Register.