Judge Strikes Down California Assisted-Suicide Law

Anders Hagstrom | Justice Reporter

A California state judge struck down a law allowing doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill adult patients Tuesday, ending the state’s 2016 attempt to legalize euthanasia.

California’s End of Life Option Act passed the legislature in 2016 amid fierce backlash from those claiming it was immoral, CNN reported Wednesday. Judge Daniel Ottolia’s ruling did not pertain to the content of the law, however. He instead ruled in unconstitutional on a procedural basis because it was passed during a special session convened by Gov. Jerry Brown. The ruling comes less than a month after the U.K. ordered the death of toddler Alfie Evans in April, shocking the world.

Adult, terminally ill patients should have the right to decide their life is no longer worth living and “die with dignity,” proponents of assisted suicide argue. The laws force doctors to harm their patients and can make patients feel pressured to commit suicide to cut costs for their families, critics counter. (RELATED: Gas Tax Could Bring Big Win For California Republicans)

“This is about giving doctors the right to assist in killing. It’s dangerous for the health care profession. It destroys trust between the doctor and the patient,” said Dr. David Stevens, executive director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics. “The so-called right to die very quickly becomes the duty to die.”

Euthanasia laws could lead to situations like Alfie’s, where the U.K. government decided his prognosis was too severe and it was immoral to keep him alive, many Americans also fear. Alfie’s parents sought repeatedly to get treatment for their son outside the U.K. But authorities prohibited it, stationing police officers outside the hospital to prevent angry protesters from storming inside and forcibly taking Alfie for treatment elsewhere. Italy granted Alfie honorary citizenship and had an emergency airplane on standby, ready to fly Alfie to a hospital in Rome; but again, the U.K. refused. (RELATED: California Saw 45 Percent Increase In STDs In 5 Years)

The state ordered doctors to remove Alfie’s life support in mid-April, and doctors predicted he wouldn’t last a day. He died 11 days later on April 28.

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