UC Law Constitutional Quarterly


Christine Sung


For decades, states across the country have been entertaining concept of physician aid-in-dying, or more commonly known as Death with Dignity. In June 2016, California became the fifth state to legalize physician aid-in-dying, enabling qualified California citizens to have the option to choose a peaceful and autonomous death. However, many qualified patients may not be aware of this option unless informed. This is where physician-patient communication becomes vital to the patient's autonomy. This Note argues that terminally ill patients choosing what end of life option to take (hopsice, palliative care, etc.) should be informed about the California End of Life Option Act during the decision making process. However, the California End of Life Options Act contains a conscience clause that permits physicians to withhold information about the patient's rights under the Act for reasons of conscience. This clause may lead to a violation of the patient's California constitutional right to privacy and the doctrine of informed consent. Although many organizations and agencies have been striving to ensure this information is widely accessible to all patients, this does not relieve the physician of his or her duty to inform the patient, nor does it ensure that all patients will properly be afforded their California constitutional right to privacy. Thus, it is important to establish a mechanism that will protect the patient's rights, while also respecting the physician's rights.