Terminally ill patients in California will have access to life-ending drugs after the California Assembly passed the End of Life Option Act on Wednesday. The bill now only needs final approval by the California Senate, which has until Friday to make a decision. If approved, the bill would have to be signed by Gov. Brown, a former Jesuit seminary student, but so far, he has not publically voiced an opinion on the matter.
If Gov. Brown signs the bill into law, California will become only the fifth U.S. state to allow physicians to prescribe life-ending drugs to the terminally ill.
The End of Life Option Act has a number of patient protections:
- Patients must be physically capable of taking the medication themselves.
- Two doctors must approve the procedure.
- A patient who wants to take lethal medications must also submit a written request, which needs to be signed in front of two witnesses.
Opponents of the bill think the law might lead to patients being forced into ending their lives prematurely.
According to The Los Angeles Times, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown (D-Rialto) opposed the measure, arguing that doctors may be too hasty in declaring patients terminal. The Times reported her telling lawmakers about her son, who was near death with an infection and physicians urged her to let him go, but she refused. Nineteen days later, she says he came off life support and is now a husband and father.
The Times quotes Brown, saying, “Doctors don’t know everything.”
Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) is managing editor of Health Care News.
Patrick McGreevy and Phil Willon, “California Assembly approves right-to-die legislation,” The Los Angeles Times, September 9, 2015: http://www.latimes.com/local/political/la-me-ln-california-lawmakers-vote-on-right-to-die-legislation-20150909-story.html