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End of Life Option Act update

California Appeals Court Suspends Lower Court Ruling, Reinstates End of Life Option Act
On June 15, a California appeals court granted emergency motions by the two terminally ill adults and a physician represented by Compassion & Choices for an “automatic stay” to immediately suspend a lower court’s judgment invalidating the End of Life Option Act. The 4th District Circuit of Appeal also granted a motion by Attorney General Xavier Becerra for a “discretionary stay” of the lower court ruling. The rulings reinstate the law, effective immediately.
Read more on Compassion & Choices website.

California's End of Life Option Act Overturned by Court in May 25 Ruling
The Riverside County Court formally entered its judgment in the Ahn v. Hestrin case and has officially invalidated the California End of Life Option Act (EOLOA). The May 25 ruling was in response to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra's May 21 appeal and the court’s original May 15 decision. Mr. Bacerra's appeal argued that the Special Session in which the Act was passed was dedicated to health care and that aid-in-dying is a health care issue so should passage of the Act was appropriate. He also requested the law be allowed to continue during the appeals process; a three-judge panel rejected that request.


Despite the May 25 dismissal, the court has given EOLOA supporters, and the Attorney General's office, time to make the case as to why the court should allow the law to continue while a final ruling is sought. This action has caused uncertainty among patients seeking life-ending medicines, as well as among physicians who support them. Several experts argue that, despite the appellate court’s decision to allow more evidence to be gathered for an appeal, the original ruling that patients and physicians are prohibited from participating in the law means that it remains illegal to provide EOLOA care as the case proceeds through the courts. Others argue the opposite.


In the absence of legal certainty about the status of EOLOA, CAFP currently is unable to recommend a course of action. As soon as more information is known, we will communicate with members.

CAFP’s newest initiative, End-of-Life Conversations, is an education and outreach program focused on integrating end-of-life, advanced care planning and palliative care into family medicine and primary care practices. Our goal is to increase family physicians’ and FM teams’ familiarity with advance care planning and palliative care services and with conversations around prognosis. Working with a diverse task force of family and internal medicine physicians, and our End-of-Life Task Force, we have created a wide array of educational activities to support individual physicians, physicians’ teams and offices, and physician-patient conversations. Please contact us with questions, concerns, suggestions and more.

End-of-Life Option Act

On June 9, 2016, the End-of-Life Option Act, signed by Governor Jerry Brown October 5, 2015, went into effect. The Act authorizes a terminally ill adult, who meets particular qualifications, to request and receive a drug for the purpose of ending his or her life. It also establishes specific procedures for patients making the request, for physicians agreeing to prescribe aid-in-dying drugs and for physicians, groups and health care systems choosing to opt out. As this is now law, CAFP encourages you to familiarize yourself with the different components of the law and its requirements.


Family physicians are the best physicians to enter into end-of-life conversations with patients and their families. These conversations, however, are often difficult and require a certain level of comfort to be effective. With the help of CAFP’s End-of-Life Task Force, an extensive needs assessment and targeted interviews, a wide array of educational activities are now available. These include live workshops on advanced directives, an instructional monograph guiding physicians on how to implement palliative care services into their practice, an ABFM Part IV performance improvement project and sessions on shared decision making.

Voices of Family Physicians

Ease the difficult conversations around prognosis and end-of-life care by listening to fellow family physicians’ stories about what it is like to have the conversation. You can learn from your colleagues how to communicate effectively and compassionately with patients about their treatment options, including possible medical interventions and palliative care. CAFP is dedicated to ensuring that both family physicians and patients feel comfortable discussing these difficult topics and hopes to continue to gather physician voices. We are pleased to share our podcast focused on end-of-life care and conversations: The Talk. The Talk, produced by Deirdre Kennedy, features family physicians, palliative care specialists, an ethicist and others​ describing their experiences with patients at the end of life.

tools + resources

Along with CAFP’s End-of-Life Conversations initiative, we have found a myriad of resources available to help family physicians comfortably and openly enter into such conversations. No one approach will fully prepare you and your team for these conversations, but we encourage you to find the tool most useful to your community in CAFP’s list of references.

news + media

Check here for the latest news or media updates on these topic areas. CAFP will keep you posted on legal and legislative changes, new educational offerings, additional tools or resources and feedback from family physicians like you!