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.

 

68 comments

Peggy B
Peggy Babout a month ago

God shouldn't come into the equation. Keep religion out of government. Right to die won't be forced on someone who believes God should decide.

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Brandy S
Brandy Sabout a month ago

And one holier than thou judge has put a hold on it!

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Camilla V
Camilla Vagaabout a month ago

thx

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Lesa D
Lesa Dabout a month ago

i did not know this but i am happy to know it now ~ thank you California!

thank you Judy...

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Danuta W
Danuta Wabout a month ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Jack Y
Jack Yabout a month ago

thanks

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Jack Y
Jack Yabout a month ago

thanks

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John J
John Jabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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John J
John Jabout a month ago

thanks for sharing

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Past Member 2 years ago

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

Paul Dansker

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