A study carried out by Compassion and Choices, one year after the legalisation of assisted suicide (see California’s turn to legalise medically assisted dying), has revealed that more than 500 people obtained a prescription to end their own life in California. The official statistics, when released, could be even higher.
However, a highly significant proportion of health professionals still refuse to practise euthanasia.
Doctor Kheriaty, Director of UC Irvine’s Medical Ethics Program, regrets the fact that the law does not require prior examination by a psychiatrist. “Without that, patients are left without adequate existence at the most vulnerable time in their lives”. He added that: “Would they have felt differently or taken a different course of action if they felt that they had family or social support, or support from health professionals to help them get through this?” The doctor wonders whether limited access to mental health and specialist care is a potential factor in patient choice.