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Medical Provider On Central, South Coasts Gives Physicians End Of Life Option for Terminally Ill

It’s perhaps one of the most difficult decisions any of us could face. If you were terminally ill, with a declining quality of life, would you choose to use a new state law which allows you to peacefully end your life?

SB 128, the End of Life Option Act, now makes that choice one you can legally make in California.

Dr. Majorie Newman is the Assistant Medical Director for Sansum Clinic, the first major medical provider on the Central and South Coasts to make the option available through its physician network.

It’s the oldest and largest outpatient healthcare provider in the county, serving 150,000 patients annually with a network of more than 150 physicians.

Newman believes it would be a rarely used option, but one physicians and their patients should have available.

The Sansum official says there are multiple safeguards in the process. The person must be able to agree to the option, and be able to self-administer the drug. Additionally, two physicians must sign off on both the option and the prognosis that the person has less than six months left to live. The medication must legally be administered at home, and there are also a number of restrictions regarding its handling.

Newman says it’s clearly not an option everyone agrees with, even in the medical community, but Sansum’s physicians now have the choice of whether they will offer it as an option. They will not be obligated to do so, and it will be their personal choice.

A number of other medical providers in the region have said that while they’ll make educational materials available about the new law, which took effect last month, they won’t make the drug available through their networks.

Lance Orozco has been News Director of KCLU since 2001, providing award-winning coverage of some of the biggest news events in the region, including the Thomas and Woolsey brush fires, the deadly Montecito debris flow, the Borderline Bar and Grill attack, and Ronald Reagan's funeral.