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California Senate Passes Right-to-Die Legislation - News - Nursesarena Forum

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California Senate Passes Right-to-Die Legislation by Idowu Olabode : September 12, 2015, 12:52:45 PM
California lawmakers on Friday approved legislation that would make the state one of only a handful to grant terminally ill patients the authority to end their lives with the assistance of a physician.

The measure, known as the End of Life Options Act, passed the California Senate on a 23-14 vote. It now heads to the desk of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who has not indicated whether he would sign it into law.

“I am proud to be a part of this historic moment,” said state Sen. Lois Wolk. “We have listened to everyone—patients and their family members, health-care professionals, and those with experience in other states where this policy has been working well without abuse.”

The measure had stalled earlier this year after a coalition of secular and religious groups, including the Roman Catholic Church, pressured lawmakers to reject it.

But the bill was reintroduced in August, during a special session called by the governor to address health-care issues. It passed the California Assembly earlier this week.

If the measure becomes law, California would join Oregon, Vermont and Washington, which have approved similar laws allowing the practice.

A Montana Supreme Court decision found “no indication in Montana law that physician aid in dying is against public policy” and said a terminally ill patient’s consent “constitutes statutory defense” to a homicide charge against the doctor. In New Mexico, the State Supreme Court is weighing a decision by a lower court that ruled doctors couldn’t be prosecuted for the practice of aiding terminally ill patients to end their lives.

While Mr. Brown, a Catholic who trained at a Jesuit seminary, hasn’t publicly taken a position on the bill, a spokeswoman for the governor said the proposed law should have been discussed as part of the normal legislative process, not during the special legislative session on health care.

“This important issue merits careful consideration,” she said, adding that another end-of-life bill set to be debated next year was a more appropriate vehicle.

One of the measure’s most prominent opponents has been Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, who wrote a letter to the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Health expressing his stance earlier this year.

“We cannot allow California to become a place where we respond to human suffering by simply making it easier for people to kill themselves,” he wrote. “In a for-profit health care system driven by financial concerns, doctor-assisted suicide will not be a ’choice’ for minorities, the poor and those without health care. It will become their only ‘option.’ "

On Friday evening, Archbishop Gomez said he was “deeply disturbed by the California legislature’s decision to allow doctors to help their patients kill themselves” and urged a veto. He criticized the legislation as rushed, and said there wasn’t adequate time devoted toward examining the issue.

The legislation gained traction after the widely publicized death of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old California woman who moved to Oregon so she could die on her own terms in 2014 after being diagnosed with terminal brain cancer two years after her wedding. A fund was set up in her honor to support assisted-suicide legislation nationwide, including in California.

It received a boost in May when the California Medical Association became the first state medical group to change its position on the issue and dropped its opposition.

Source: Wall Street Journal

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