- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 9, 2016

For the tidy sum of $2,000, terminally ill Californians can now pay a doctor to help them commit suicide.

Dr. Lonny Shavelson, who heads Bay Area End of Life Options, said he charges $200 for an initial evaluation and $1,800 in other fees to help patients kill themselves.

The medical practice began offering the service Thursday, after a law permitting physician-assisted suicide officially went into effect.

Dr. Shavelson, a 64-year-old former emergency-room doctor, said he stopped practicing medicine for two years in order to work on a documentary regarding gender fluidity, but decided to reopen his doors in response to the law.

“I stopped doing medicine,” he told the Mercury News. “I wasn’t sure if I would ever go back into it. Then this happened.”

He advocated legalizing euthanasia for several decades, writing a book in which he documented the underground black market for death.

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“What the book said is that this is so bad — the way it’s being done illegally — and the demand is so high, that the only compassionate thing to do would be to bring it above ground and regulate it,” Dr. Shavelson said.

Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat came around to the doctor’s side when he signed the End of Life Option Act into law in October, allowing physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill, mentally-capable patients.

Patients must have less than six months to live and be capable of ingesting the drugs on their own. The law requires two doctors to sign-off on a patient’s terminal prognosis, and patients must reiterate their willingness to die on two separate occasions at least 15 days apart in order to receive the lethal drugs.

Physicians and hospitals who object to the practice have the right — for now — not to prescribe the life-ending drugs or even discuss the possibility with parents who inquire about ending their lives.

Nearly 1,000 people have killed themselves through the practice in Oregon since it became legal in the state in 1998.

The California legislation was enacted in response to the case of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old, terminally ill Californian who moved to Oregon two years ago in order to commit suicide.

Critics contend the bill will prey on society’s most vulnerable and risks turning into to a full-fledged right to suicide regardless of one’s health, pointing to Europe, where similar assurances decades ago about a narrow right and “limit cases” are now obsolete.

Dr. Shavelson said he has already been contacted by several people, but will not offer his services to just anyone who expresses a desire to die.

“When somebody says to a physician that they want to talk about the End of Life Option Act and says, ‘Can you give me a prescription that will end my life?’ I want them to tell me why,” he told the Mercury News

“My best-case scenario is that I get zero patients,” he said.

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