What is the law surrounding euthanasia?

The End of Life Option Act authorizes a terminally ill patient with the capacity to make medical decisions to request a prescription for a lethal dose of drugs, insulates a prescribing physician from criminal liability, and sets forth rigorous procedures and safeguards to protect against abuse. (Assem. Bill No. 15 (2015-2016 2d Ex. Sess.) Sec. 1 (Assembly Bill 15).)

“The Act allows an individual who has complied with all of its requirements to obtain and to use an ‘aid-in-dying drug.’” (People ex rel. Becerra v. Superior Court (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 486, 490 citing Health & Saf. Code, Sec. 443.1(b).) “‘Aid-in-dying drug’ is defined, in part, as a drug that may be ‘self-administer[ed] to bring about... death....’” (Id.)

Health & Safety Code 443.2 provides that “An adult with the capacity to make medical decisions and with a terminal disease may request to receive a prescription for an aid-in-dying drug if the following conditions are satisfied:

  1. The individual’s attending physician has diagnosed the individual with a terminal disease.
  2. The individual has voluntary expressed the wish to receive a prescription for an aid-in-dying drug.
  3. The individual is a resident of California and is able to establish residency... ”

(People ex rel. Becerra v. Superior Court (2018) 29 Cal.App.5th 486, 490.)

“Actions taken in accordance with (the Act) shall not, for any purposes, constitute suicide..., homicide, or elder abuse under the law.” (Health & Saf. Code, Sec. 443.18; see also Health & Saf. Code, Sec. 443.14(d)(2).)

“A physician who participates in the process prescribed by the Act is immune from virtually all adverse legal consequences.” (People ex rel. Becerra, supra, 29 Cal.App.5th 491 citing Health & Saf. Code, Secs. 443.1(h), 443.14(c).)

“On the other hand, a physician is equally immune from ‘refusing to participate in activities authorized under this part, including, but not limited to, refusing to inform a patient regarding his or her rights under this part, and not referring an individual to a physician who participates in activities authorized under this part.’” (People ex rel. Becerra, supra, 29 Cal.App.5th 491 citing Health & Saf. Code, Secs. 443.14(e)(2), 443.1(h).)

Useful Rulings on Euthanasia

Recent Rulings on Euthanasia

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