California became the fifth state in the country to legalize physician-assisted suicide after Gov. Jerry Brown signed a controversial right-to-die bill Monday.
The End of Life Option Act allows doctors to provide lethal dosages of drugs to patients with terminal diseases that meet certain criteria.
Under the legislation, the patient has to be deemed mentally competent and given less than six months to live by two physicians.
Brown, a Catholic, wrote a letter to the state assembly saying he weighed his decision after speaking with disability activists, doctors and religious leaders.
“The crux of the matter is whether the State of California should continue to make it a crime for a dying person to end his life, no matter how great his pain or suffering,” the California Democrat wrote.
Oregon, Washington, Montana and Vermont have passed similar legislation and nearly two dozen other states are taking it into consideration.
Right-to-die legislation came to prominence last year when Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old with stage 4 glioblastoma, moved from California to Oregon to utilize the state’s assisted suicide law.
“I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain,” Brown said. “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.”
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