In a controversial move, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a measure that will allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients upon their request. The bill’s detractors were religious- and disability-rights groups.
In a statement on Monday, Brown, a Democrat, said it was not an ordinary bill because it dealt with “life and death,” as well as whether the state should continue to “make it a crime for a dying person to end their own life no matter how great their pain or suffering.”
The law limits assisted death to patients who are predicted to die within six months, and it requires approval from multiple physicians.
“In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death,” said Brown, a Catholic and former Jesuit seminary student. “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 wouldn’t deny that right to others.”
The right-to-die measure was approved by the California Assembly on September 9, with the Senate passing the bill in a 23-14 vote on September 12. Most Republican lawmakers opposed the bill on moral grounds, joined by some Democrats who cited examples of family members who, given months to live, went on to live for years.
The new law will take effect 90 days after lawmakers finish their special session on healthcare, which is likely to occur in January.
The bill’s detractors say the legislation requires more work. They argue there is no provision for preventing relatives from forcing patients to end their lives prematurely, and there are also concerns the measure could pose dangers to vulnerable people and those with disabilities.
Opponents also fear the law will invite insurance companies to take advantage of poor patients by offering to pay for the cost of life-ending drugs ‒ but not for the expensive treatments that could their save lives.
“There is a deadly mix when you combine our broken healthcare system with assisted suicide, which immediately becomes the cheapest treatment,” Marilyn Golden, a senior policy analyst at the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund in Berkeley, told Reuters. “The so-called protections written into the bill really amount to very little.”
The new law is modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which passed in 1994. It makes California the fifth state to allow so-called assisted suicide, following Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont.
WAKE UP! How long before the government will force Christians to have abortions? Never could happen? They already did it to the Jewish people. Hitler almost wiped out an entire race of people. Who is next? What race? What age? Now they say kill the elderly, they’ve outlived their usefulness. The unborn never lived so what does it matter? It matters to me, the Great God of all Creation charge you, don’t stay the silent majority anymore.
This is the land that says abortion is legal and now people are starved to death as it gets more expensive to care for the sick and euthanasia will be more prevalent then ever. Very soon laws will be passed demanding doctors to kill or their right to practice will be taken away. Doctors, it is far better for you to refuse than to have MY anger fall upon you for ending a life you had no right to end. I alone have that right for I prophecy to you now, at this time it is the terminally ill or the severely handicapped or the elderly but through this vessel I say that very soon it will be those that they say are retarded or mentally ill that will be killed.