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Use of California assisted death law drops in 2018

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California health officials say 337 terminally ill people took drugs to end their lives last year, down from 374 in 2017.

The California Department of Public Health reported Tuesday that 452 people received prescriptions under the law. That’s down from 577 people in 2017, the first full year after a law made the option legal.

The advocacy organization Compassion & Choices said a judge’s temporary suspension of the law last year during an ongoing lawsuit likely caused the decrease.

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, and not everyone uses them.

Of those who died, nearly 89% were age 60 or older and about 94% had health insurance.

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