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Woman With ALS Says California's End Of Life Law May Not Work For Her

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A woman with a terminal illness is questioning the fairness of the end of life law that goes into effect statewide on Thursday.

The California Medical Association says you must be capable of making your own medical decisions, both physically and mentally, based on how the law is written.

But for patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, those requirements may be impossible to meet.

"I think it's important for patients to have a choice and end their life in dignity if they have to," said Shelly Hoover.

The Lincoln wife, mother of two and former veteran was living the dream and in the best shape of her life. But in May of 2013, things started to change.

"I've lost use of my legs my arms are weak, handwriting barely legible at this point," she said.

ALS is a neurodegenerative disease that leads to complete paralysis. The life expectancy is typically two to five years.

"I know the end of the story. I know the end of the road, be in bed completely paralyzed unable to speak or breathe," she said.

Hoover says she wants to take advantage of the law., but in order to receive end-of-life drugs, you must have a prognosis of less than six months to live from two doctors, and the patient must make one written and two verbal requests.

"The law does not allow ALS patients to perform all the things they have to do to meet the law," her husband Steve Hoover said.

The way ALS progresses brings different complications than other terminal conditions.

"By the by the time six months from the end of my life I won't have access to it because I won't be able to communicate easily," she said.

The law says the patients must be able to take the drug on their own.

"The final straw is when I'm laying there completely paralyzed, I've made the decision with my family I'm ready to end my life, I won't have access to that law because I won't be able to self administer the medication," she said.

With hopes to amend the law, she's calling for fair access.

"Even if I'm gone before the policy is able to come through, at least we've started the process," she said.

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