California Becomes 5th U.S. State To Pass Right-To-Die Law

California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, announced on October 5 that the state will become the fifth in the nation to allow terminally ill patients to use doctor-prescribed drugs to legally end their lives.

California is also the country’s most populous state, so this is huge news.

Brown said that he signed the legislation approved by state lawmakers after an emotional and deeply personal debate. Until the last moment, he had refused to comment on the issue, leaving everyone in suspense.

A lifelong Catholic, and also a former Jesuit seminarian, Brown has clearly agonized over this decision, consulting widely with church leaders, family and friends, and his own conscience.

The bill passed the State Senate on June 4, but then had to move through two sub-committees and face the full Assembly before it landed on Brown’s desk on September 11.

After carefully considering messages from both sides of the debate, Brown issued this signing message on October 5:

In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” the 77-year-old governor said in the message. 

I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I cannot deny that right to others.

As a Californian, I am proud of my governor for reaching this decision and having the courage to sign the End of Life Option bill into law.

Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old woman with terminal brain cancer who chose to die on November 1, 2014, has been a powerful force in this debate. In a series of emotional videos, the Californian explained to the world that in order to end her life she had to move to Oregon, where physician-assisted dying was legal.

Maynard’s husband and mother have been instrumental in campaigning for the passage of this bill in California. Maynard’s mother, Debbie Ziegler, testified in committee hearings, holding up a large photo of her daughter while she listened to lawmakers debating the issue.

The Cons And The Pros

Opponents of the bill have said it promotes premature suicide, while religious advocates say it goes against the will of God, and advocates for people with disabilities declare that terminally ill people could be coerced into death.

But let’s take a look at the safeguards of this bill:

*  It’s optional: both for those with terminal diseases and for medical providers, who may choose not to advise it.

*  Patients must act voluntarily

*  Patients must be of sound mind

*  Patients must submit a written request, along with the signatures of multiple witnesses

This is a humane bill, which pays respect to terminally ill people and allows them the dignity of free choice in their lives.

Where Is The Right-To-Die Legal?

California became the fifth state where doctors can prescribe life-ending drugs; the first was Oregon, followed by Washington, Vermont and Montana. Over 20 other states have proposed such legislation this year, but none of these has passed.

Some European countries do allow assisted suicide: in 2002, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize it; shortly afterwards, Belgium made euthanasia legal. France has a law that gives the right to be “left to die,” although euthanasia and assisted suicide are against the law. In the countries of Germany, Switzerland and Luxembourg, assisted suicide is allowed under certain circumstances. 

Canada’s Supreme Court approved physician-assisted death earlier this year, but the government could reverse that decision within a year. As it stands now, Quebec will begin to allow doctor-assisted death in December, but other Canadian provinces will have to wait until after the general election on October 19, to see if the same will apply to them.

Thank you, Governor Brown, for this life-affirming and monumentally important decision.

 

59 comments

 .
Past Member 2 years ago

This article has some vast and valuable information about this subject.

Paul Dansker

SEND
DJ M.
DJ M2 years ago

So glad this legislation passed in California. The terminally should be able to end their own lives.

SEND
Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing!

SEND
 .
.2 years ago

I don’t waste my free time that’s why I read the informative things when I got this blog I really enjoyed reading this.
Brownstone Law Group - Orange County

SEND
 .
.2 years ago

I don’t waste my free time that’s why I read the informative things when I got this blog I really enjoyed reading this.
Brownstone Law Group - Orange County

SEND
 .
.2 years ago

I don’t waste my free time that’s why I read the informative things when I got this blog I really enjoyed reading this.
Brownstone Law Group - Orange County

SEND
Jim Ven
Jim Ven2 years ago

thanks for the article.

SEND
Mary B.
Mary B2 years ago

This is not a difficult topic. If you're not living in it, the body does not belong to you and it is none of your business. I don't care how kind you are and how you believe 'others' should not have the right of self determination, but YOU have the right to determine for THEM, then you are deluded. I'm amazed that grown people are still haveing these absurd arguments. You will claim it's their choice if they're homeless or jobless or addicted, but if they want to leave the planet quietly and in comfort, can't have that ! Instead of all the wrenching soul searching before you get down to asking what would you want for yourself, START THERE ! And understand that you can't stop anyone else anyway, tho you can make things more difficult. Why bother? It's not your call. Now let's just get on with and scrap all the laws that claim you can't take your own life when you want to.

SEND
Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago

Why are we so ready to kill? Dying is not a right. Life is. The constitution lists life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as our rights. But we kill as if that's a right. We kill babies in the womb, even babies born alive from botched abortions. Now we are going to help people kill themselves. Not too long ago suicide was illegal.

SEND
Paulinha Russell
Paulinha Russell2 years ago

Great news! Good for California!

SEND