California will streamline and extend its assisted death law under a bill signed Tuesday by Gov. Gavin Newsom that reduces the time until terminal patients can choose to be given fatal drugs.
Starting Jan. 1, the waiting period required between the time a patient makes separate oral requests for medication will drop to 48 hours, down from the current minimum 15 days. Earlier this year, New Mexico also reduced its waiting period to 48 hours.
The California legislation also eliminates the requirement that patients make a final written attestation within 48 hours of taking the medication.
“Eligible terminally ill adults will soon be able to more easily access the End of Life Option Act without needless suffering and unnecessary roadblocks,” said Kim Callinan, president and CEO of the advocacy group Compassion & Choices Action Network.
The act took effect in June 2016 and had been set to expire in another five years. But the new law will would keep it in place until 2031.
Nearly 2,900 people have received a prescription since the law took effect.
Disability Rights California and the California Catholic Conference opposed the bill. They cited inequities in the health care system for people with disabilities, the aging, and Black and Latino residents.
The measure can subtly pressure people who fear “becoming a financial or emotional burden to their families,” the Catholic Conference said.