The Santa Cruz Sentinel reported 17 September 2016:
Waiting for ‘the die medicine’
By Tracy Seipel, Bay Area News Group
For 78-year-old Judy Dale, this wasn’t the way California’s new aid-in-dying law was supposed to work.
The San Francisco grandmother, her body riddled with cancer, had hoped to die on her own terms when the time came by ingesting lethal medications prescribed by a physician. But the panic-filled weeks she spent this summer trying to find a doctor — any doctor — willing to participate in the state’s End of Life Option Act were running out.
By the time she located one, it was too late, and when Dale drew her final breath Tuesday morning, it was not the kind of death she — or her family — had envisioned.
“She did not want to die that way, too confused to say goodbye,” said daughter Catherine Dale, crying over the memory of her bedridden mother begging daily to know how much longer she would have to wait for “the die medicine.”
It’s a scene being played out throughout California, as scores of terminally ill patients are learning to their dismay — and outrage — that the state’s new aid-in-dying law comes with no guarantee of finding a doctor.
“What does this law mean in California?” asked Catherine Dale, still seething over the circumstances at UC San Francisco that left her mother scrambling at the last minute to find a physician.
“The law, to me, means you still need to go to Oregon.”
That’s where the nation’s first aid-in-dying law, the Death with Dignity Act, was enacted in 1997. And almost 20 years later, a network of doctors openly willing to help the terminally ill die has grown there over the years. Ultimately, that could happen here.
Similar legislation has been passed in Washington, Montana* and Vermont, with the help of Compassion & Choices, the same nonprofit group that supported California’s version of the law, signed last October by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Three months after it took effect on June 9, however, there are still “challenges getting everyone up to speed,” said the group’s spokesman, Sean Crowley.
The state Department of Public Health, which will track the number of Californians who request prescriptions and those who use the drugs, is not releasing figures until next July, when the law will have been in place for about a year. So far, at least 50 Californians have received prescriptions Continue Reading »