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Assisted Suicide Debate Heating Up In California

Compassion & Choices

Brittany Maynard

Compassion & Choices

Brittany Maynard moved from San Francisco to Oregon earlier this year after she was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. She wanted to use Oregon’s "Death with Dignity" law, which allows doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients. Now her death is renewing the deabte about physician-assisted suicide in California.

In the final days of her life, Maynard worked with Compassion & Choices. The group supports the right of terminally ill patients to end their lives. California Political Director Charmaine Manansala says the group will be working to get a program similar to Oregon’s approved in California.

"Our phones are ringing off the hook here. We have volunteers and donors coming out of the woodwork," she says. "And as the political director I’ve had many elected officials, whether it be local or state level, who have been contacting me."

Manansala says the group hasn’t yet decided whether to pursue policy changes through the legislature or through voters.

"It boils down to the self-determination of people‘s rights to choose how they die," she says. "People have a choice regarding how they live they should also have a choice regarding how they end their lives."

But Tim Rosales with Californians Against Assisted Suicide says the impact of the policy goes beyond the individual.

"You start to talk about some of the impacts on the uninsured, people who don’t have access to healthcare, people who are living with disabilities or serious illness," he says. "Those are issues that concern them."

Rosales says California has rejected similar measures several times and that physician-assisted suicide policies pose a threat to the disabled community.  

Four states currently allow physician-assisted suicide.