In the six months since California enacted the End of Life Option Act, allowing terminally ill patients to request life-ending drugs from doctors, 111 Californians have ended their lives under the law, according to the Washington Post. The median patient age was 73, and more than half were suffering from malignant cancers. Twenty others had neuromuscular disorders like Parkinson’s or Lou Gehrig’s disease.
The law's opponents claim it's unethical for physicians to accelerate patients deaths, and that there's no way of determining if the drugs were prescribed to depressed patients. But proponents, including relatives of terminally ill patients, say the law gives people more control over their own lives.
John Minor, of Manhattan Beach, was one of the 111 people who chose to end their lives under the law. Minor was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis in his late 70's, and his doctors initially refused to give him aid-in-dying drugs. In September, he drank a cup of apple juice mixed with a fatal dose of the drugs and died surrounded by relatives.
“John did what was right for him,” his wife, Sherry Minor, told the Los Angeles Times. “He died peacefully, rather than in agony, and he was in control. He didn’t feel afraid or helpless.”