Thursday, December 1, 2022
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No, aid in dying isn’t only truly for cancer patients

To the editor: I am a hospice and palliative care specialist who offers medical aid in dying to terminally ill patients who request it when no other option will provide relief. Contrary to what one letter writer said about aid in dying, the California law is not “really … only applicable for cancer.”

In fact, while 66% of the nearly 500 Californians who used the End of Life Option Act in 2021 had cancer, neurological diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Parkinson’s accounted for the second-largest underlying illness grouping, totaling 13.2%, according to the California Public Health Department.

In addition, the Legislature wisely improved access to medical aid in dying by reducing the waiting period between the two mandatory oral requests for it from 15 days to 48 hours after a 2018 Kaiser Permanente Southern California report showed that 21% of terminally ill Californians died during the 15-day waiting period.

Chandana Banerje, M.D., Duarte

The writer is an assistant clinical professor of hospice and palliative medicine at City of Hope National Medical Center.

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