‘Right To Die’ Bill Proposed In California

Robert Pursell Contributor
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Two California state senators have introduced a new bill to give terminally ill Californians greater ability to choose how, and when, they die.

The bill comes after the public quest of Bay Area resident Brittany Maynard to end her battle with terminal cancer through a physician assisted death. Maynard, 29, died on Nov. 1, 2014.

Bill co-authors Bill Monning and Lois Wolk, both Democrats, will be joined by the late Maynard’s mother and husband Wednesday in Sacramento where they will unveil the End of Life Option Act. The bill will allow doctors in California to prescribe a lethal dose of medicine to terminally ill patients, which the patient will in turn be able to take on their own accord.

“Our hope is to see the end-of-life option as part of a continuum of established rights available to patients,” Monning told the San Jose Mercury News. He cited his wife’s expertise as a physician and the experience of watching close friends suffer through their final days as reasons for introducing the bill.

The push for the legalization of physician-assisted death in California has gained considerable traction after Maynard’s story went viral.

Under current California law, Maynard was blocked from receiving physician prescribed medicines to end her life and battle with an aggressive form of terminal brain cancer. After publicly campaigning for it, Maynard moved from her house in East Bay to Portland, Ore. as a way of taking advantage of the state’s Death with Dignity law.

In Oregon, physician-assisted death is legal, and following a worsening of her symptoms, Brittany chose to end her life this past November, after a day spent hiking in the woods with her family and friends. She took a fatal dosage of medicine and died peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by her loved ones.

Still, despite the viral nature of Brittany’s campaign, opponents of right to die laws in California remain adamant in their opposition of the new bill, and any measure that would allow for physician-assisted death.

“We will advocate quite aggressively against this legislation. … Once suicide becomes an option, it is just another form of treatment and the cheapest option,” Tim Rosales, a spokesman for Californians Against Assisted Suicide, told the Mercury News. The California Medical Association has already condemned such legislation in the past, saying it would pose a direct conflict to a doctor’s ethical duties.

Currently, laws allowing physician-assisted deaths exist in Washington, Oregon and Vermont. The practice has been allowed via court rulings in Montana and New Mexico. Legislation on the practice is set to be introduced in as many as 12 other states according to the group Compassion and Choices, which is campaigning publicly for the cause.