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California Governor Signs Hard-Fought, End-Of-Life Legislation

  
UPDATE Oct. 6, 6:02 p.m. Opponents of California’s newly-signed end-of-life law hope to give voters the chance to overturn it.


The group “Seniors Against Suicide” filed a referendum attempt today with the California Attorney General’s office – one day after Governor Jerry Brown signed the measure.

The law’s opponents must submit more than 360,000 valid voter signatures within the next 90 days to qualify the referendum for the November 2016 ballot.


3:35 p.m. California will soon become the fifth state in the nation to allow terminally ill patients to end their lives with a doctor’s assistance. Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation Monday that will legalize physician-assisted suicide.

In his signing message, the governor wrote that after considering arguments from both sides, he reflected on what he would want in the face of his own death. He added, "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."

That statement prompted criticism from the measure’s opponents.

"Generalizing from his own personal experience or his own personal preference to what would be in the best interest of all Californians seems to be a pretty remarkable leap," said Dr. Aaron Kheriaty, a medical ethicist at UC Irvine. "And I think in regards to this bill, it’s unwarranted."

Kheriaty added that the governor’s action "doesn’t take into account the fact that those who are economically or socially marginalized would stand to potentially be harmed by this kind of law."

Supporters of the law rejoiced.

"What he wrote, to me, was very touching, very moving," said Dan Diaz, whose terminally ill wife, Brittany Maynard, moved from California to Oregon last year to end her life. "His thought process got right to where it needed to be, what Brittany was facing, and the recognition that nobody should stand in the way of Brittany or any terminally ill individual from having all of the options available to them."

The California Legislature passes hundreds of bills each year, but few have ever sparked a debate as personal as this one. The governor received pleas to sign the bill from terminally ill Californians and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He also spoke for more than an hour with Brittany Maynard last year before she ended her life. Religious leaders and advocates for people with disabilities urged Brown to veto the measure. And the medical community split, with the chief lobbying group for doctors negotiating sufficient liability protections to remain neutral.

It’s not yet clear when the law will take effect, but it likely won’t be until sometime next year. Because the bill was passed during a special legislative session, it cannot take effect until 90 days after that special session is adjourned. That requires floor votes from both chambers and will almost certainly not occur until lawmakers return to the state Capitol in January, at the earliest.


(AP) - California will become the fifth state in the nation to allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives using doctor-prescribed drugs.


Gov. Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, announced Monday he has signed a bill approved by state lawmakers after an emotional and deeply personal debate.

The legislation passed Sept. 11 after a previous version failed this year despite the highly publicized case of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard. The California woman with brain cancer moved to Oregon to end her life.

Opponents say the bill legalizes premature suicide. It includes requirements that the patient be capable of taking the medication themselves and that two doctors approve it.

California's measure came after at least two dozen states introduced aid-in-dying legislation this year, though the measures have stalled elsewhere.

In the bill signing message Governor Brown said after talking with many different people it came down to what he'd want facing his own death.

"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."

 

Read the full statement below.

 

End Of Life Bill Signing Message