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Critics Raise Concerns As Calif. Approaches One-Year Anniversary Of Aid In Dying Law

As California approaches the one-year anniversary of its aid-in-dying law, critics are raising concerns about doctors taking advantage of terminally ill patients.

The Life Legal Defense Foundation is suing the state to overturn the law.

Alexandra Snyder is executive director of the group and says she’s alarmed that doctors like Lonny Shavelson have built entire practices around aid-in-dying medications.

“He came out of retirement solely for the purpose of taking patients like this," says Snyder. "And again these patients are so vulnerable, we just think this is an extremely exploitive practice.”

Shavelson says he did set up his own practice in Berkeley devoted to aid in dying, but the main goal is to evaluate a patient's hospice care and other services.

“Very few of the patients who I see actually wind up getting an aid-in-dying medication, what we’re doing is we’re offering better end-of-life care,” says Shavelson.

He says 320 patients have contacted him about the medication since the law passed.

He has prescribed it to about 65 patients, and 38 have taken the medication.

The state must publish statistics on prescriptions of the medications and related deaths by July 1.

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