By Alex Schadenberg, Executive Director, Euthanasia Prevention Coalition
The 2018 California annual assisted suicide report is similar to other U.S. jurisdictions where the report implies that the assisted suicide deaths were voluntary and self-administered but the information in the report does not address that subject.
According to the 2018 California assisted suicide report:
- 452 prescriptions for lethal drugs were written resulting in 314 reported assisted suicide deaths. There were 23 reported assisted suicide deaths from lethal drugs prescribed the year before (in 2017) resulting in a total of 337 reported assisted suicide deaths in 2018.
- There were 59 deaths from the underlying illness or other causes (rather than from the drugs) and 79 people where the death status was unknown.
There may be more assisted suicide deaths. Some of the 79 people whose status is unknown may have died by assisted suicide.
In 2017, there were 374 reported assisted suicide deaths.
Since assisted suicide was legalized on June 9, 2016, there have been 807 known assisted suicide deaths, according to the California Department of Health.
On May 15, 2018, Life Legal Defense successfully challenged California’s assisted suicide law. Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia overturned the California assisted suicide law, ruling that the legislature acted outside the scope of its authority when it enacted the End of Life Option Act in 2015.
On Friday, June 15, 2018, the Fourth District Court of Appeals in Riverside County California issued a stay putting the End of Life Option back into effect and permitting doctors in California to assist the suicide of patients.
Since under Judge Ottolia’s ruling assisted suicide was prohibited in California for several weeks in 2018, I anticipate that the number of assisted suicide deaths will increase substantially in 2019.
Recently a nurse plead not guilty to murder in a California court. She allegedly injected her friend with assisted suicide drugs. The case will be heard next year, but this case shows how lethal drugs can be used to kill someone outside of the law.
In December 2017, a former California politician, Steven Clute, was charged with assisting the suicide of his wife, Pamela, in August 2016.
Order the pamphlet – Shedding light on assisted suicide in America.
Editor’s note. This appeared at the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition and is reposted with permission.