Current Developments: End of Life Option Act is up in the air. This article was written by Danielle Al-Abed.
California’s “End of Life Option Act” now hangs in the balance as a result of opponents recently challenging the validity of the legislation.
The act allows for terminally-ill patients to self-administer life-ending medication if they are given a prognosis of 6 months or less to live, and do not wish to pursue alternatives, such as palliative care. Obtaining a prescription for life-ending medication requires a patient (deemed mentally competent to do so) to issue two oral requests and one signed and witnessed written request to their physician.
The law was originally passed in October of 2015 at a special legislative session, meant to address health care access and funding issues.
On May 15, 2018, Judge Daniel A. Ottolia overturned the act and denied an emergency stay of the law while its validity is being assessed by the court.
The court’s assessment was two-pronged. Firstly, the constitutionality of passing this law at a special legislative session was being called into question. Judge Ottolia concluded the act was not “reasonably related” to the purpose for which the session was called. The court also questioned the ethical implications of the law itself.
Although the law is being called into question by the court, polling shows three in four Californians are in support of the act remaining in place.
As of June 15, 2018, the act has been temporarily reinstated by California’s 4th District Court of Appeals. However, the legislation will be subject to lengthy consideration by the courts, with the validity of the act most likely to be determined by the California Supreme Court.