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California's Aid-In-Dying Law Marks One Year Anniversary

ep_jhu / Flickr

ep_jhu / Flickr

Friday marks the one-year anniversary of California's End of Life Option Act. The law is still being challenged in court.

The day the law was implemented, Kelly Davis was with her sister Betsy, who was battling ALS.

"I remember her saying to one of her caregivers, 'hey it's June 9th, can we make the appointment to start the process?'" said Davis.

Betsy got the medication. Media outlets covered the party she threw just before ending her life at age 41 on July 24.

Davis' story was later referenced in a lawsuit brought by several medical and religious groups seeking to overturn the law.

Alexandra Snyder is Executive Director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation.

She says the law allows doctors to prescribe the medicine without really knowing the patient.

"A doctor can see a patient once, prescribe the drug, send that patient over to a colleague phone approval of the drug and then now that person has access to a lethal dose of barbiturates," says Snyder.

At a hearing in August, lawyers seeking to overturn the law showed a copy of Davis' death certificate. They said the doctors who signed it knew her for less than a month.

Kelly Davis says those weren't the doctors who prescribed the medication to her sister. It was a physician who knew her sister for almost two years.

"For them to claim that Betsy got a prescription from doctors who didn't know her, it's so offensive," says Davis. "It really was upsetting to my dad and to me."

Life Legal is looking into whether it made inaccurate statements, but says there are still serious issues with the law.

The next court hearing is scheduled for a week from today.

 Aid In Dying

Sally Schilling

Reporter/Podcast Producer

Sally Schilling is a Davis native and a graduate of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She has reported on redwood poachers robbing national forests in Humboldt County and the dangers of melting tropical glaciers in the Peruvian Andes.  Read Full Bio 

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