The new law in the nation’s most populous state, passed last fall, will allow terminally ill patients who meet certain criteria to ask their doctor for life-ending medication. The legislation came as a result of the case of Brittany Maynard, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in California, where physicians previously were barred from prescribing medication to allow terminally ill people to end their lives. Maynard ended her life in Oregon, where the practice was legal.
In 1973, Gallup for the first time found a majority in favor of doctors being legally permitted to end a patient’s life if requested. That percentage grew to 65% in 1990. In the last 25 years, Americans have solidly been in favor of doctors having the ability to end patients’ lives, with between 64% and 75% favoring the practice.