Over 1 in 5 Americans will soon have access to aid in dying medications: 5 things to know

Twenty-two percent of Americans will soon live in places where they can obtain lethal medication prescriptions from their physicians in the case of terminal illness, according to The New York Times.

Five things to know:

1. New Jersey will start allowing aid in dying medications Aug. 1, while Maine will allow the medication starting Sept. 15. They will join seven other states with similar laws: Oregon, Washington, Vermont, Montana, California, Colorado and Hawaii, as well as the District of Columbia.

2. The legislative model for these states has been Oregon's 1997 law, which requires terminal patients to see two physicians; make three requests, two oral and one written, for the prescription; and wait 15 days before taking the lethal medication. Supporters of aid in dying say the process is too complicated and long.

3. Several state laws also have opt-out provisions, allowing physicians and healthcare systems to decline participation. A survey in JAMA found 60 percent of California's 270 hospitals forbade physicians to participate in the state's End of Life Option Act.

4. Statistics show very few people choose aid in dying in states where the practice is legalized. Just 577 of the 269,000 Californians who died in 2017 used prescribed lethal medication.

5. Opponents of the laws include Catholic organizations and some disability activists, who are attempting to repeal or invalidate laws in several states. Yet there is broad public support for aid in dying according to recent polls.

Click here for more information on the debate over aid in dying.

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