During the six months following the passage of California’s “right to die” law, 111 of 191 people who suffered from terminal illnesses and received aid-in-dying drugs from their doctors opted to end their lives.
In June 2016, California enacted the End of Life Option Act which allowed people with less than six months to live to request life-ending drugs from their physicians.
On Tuesday, the California Department of Public Health released demographic information about qualified patients who obtained and self-administered such drugs.
Dan Diaz, husband of right-to-die advocate Brittany Maynard, said that the data is “a testament” to his late wife’s “voice and advocacy — that those 111 individuals had the ability to stay at home, under the care of their own medical team, and be surrounded by friends and family when they died.”
“Brittany didn’t have that. We had to move to Oregon for her to have a gentle passing,” Diaz said, according to Raw Story.
After being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, Maynard publicly advocated for the right to die during the last several months of her life, during which she and her husband moved to Oregon. At the time, Oregon was one of only five states that legally allowed patients to end their own lives.
Corinne Carey, the New York campaign director for the right-to-die advocacy group Compassion & Choices, said that California’s data will assist with the push for a similar law in New York.
“I think this report will answer a lot of the questions people have had,” Carey said. “We’ve had a lot of rich data out of Oregon, but Oregon is a pretty homogeneous state. California is much more populous and diverse. It’s much more like New York.”
In an interview with the New York Daily News, Carey said the data should assist advocates in dispelling the concern among legislators that disadvantaged individuals are most likely to seek life-ending medication.
“These are educated, health-literate people asking for some control over their death,” she said.
In a 2014 CNN op-ed, Maynard wrote about her illness and explained her decision to end her life.
“Because the rest of my body is young and healthy, I am likely to physically hang on for a long time even though cancer is eating my mind.”
“I do not want to die. But I am dying,” she wrote. “And I want to die on my own terms.”
Maynard also declared her advocacy for those facing a similar fate, writing that she and her husband were able to move to Oregon to obtain life-ending drugs, but “the vast majority of families do not have the flexibility, resources and time to make all these changes.”
“As I look at the data, what goes through my mind is what a selfless, loving and caring person Brittany was to try to help these individuals suffering,” Diaz told the Daily News.
“I’m so immensely proud of Brittany for deciding to speak up to help people she would never meet.”
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