California health officials reported Friday that 374 terminally ill people took drugs to end their lives in 2017, the first full year after a law made the option legal.
The California Department of Public Health said 577 people received aid-in-dying drugs last year, but not everyone used them. The law allows adults to obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs if a doctor has determined they have six months or less to live. They can self-administer the drugs.
Of the 374 who died, about 90 percent were more than 60 years old, about 95 percent were insured and about 83 percent were receiving hospice or similar care. The median age was 74.
The figures are more than double those from the first six months after the law went into effect June 9, 2016. In those early months 191 people received life-ending drugs, while 111 people took them and died.
Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia ruled in May that the law is unconstitutional because it was adopted illegally when lawmakers passed it during a special Legislative session called to address health issues. An appeals court last week reinstated the End of Life Option Act, but gave opponents until July 2 to file objections.