The End of Life Option Act takes effect in California on June 9.
The law allows terminally ill patients with less than six months to live to take deadly doses of medicines to kill themselves and end their suffering. Physicians cannot be prosecuted for prescribing the deadly meds.
The LA Times reports that the majority of people in California supported this type of law. A poll last year held by the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley revealed that 82% of Democrats and 67% of Republicans were on board.
Upon signing the law in October of last year, California Governor Jerry Brown released a message to the California State Assembly:
“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,” wrote the Governor. “In the end, I was left to reflect on what I would want in the face of my own death. I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged an 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.”
Opponents of the new law, like the group Seniors Against Suicide, say that illness is never a reason to commit suicide. The organization describes itself as “a Coalition of Seniors dedicated to hope, comfort, and care for the medically dependent and emotionally vulnerable.” The group argues that new treatments might become available for those patients who are terminally ill. Seniors Against Suicides says such was the case with Brittany Maynard, who decided to end her life on November 1, 2015 after a battle with brain cancer. The group points out a March 29 report by 60 Minutes which revealed a promising new treatment for Glioblastoma cancer, the same as Maynard’s, using polio to attack cancer cells.
Physician-assisted suicide is legal in four other U.S. states: Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Montana.