Judge Overturns California's End of Life Option Act

Elias Hubbard
May 17, 2018

In what is certainly a victory for the pro-life movement, a judge in California on Tuesday struck down the state's legalization of doctor-assisted suicide. He believes the legislature will be able to reinstate the law with any changes the court believes to be necessary.

"The court made it very clear that assisted suicide has nothing to do with increasing access to health care and that hijacking the special session to advance an unrelated agenda is impermissible", the Life Legal Defense Foundation, which filed the legal challenge, said in a statement. If diagnosed with less than six months to live, a patient may request lethal drugs from their physician. "California law now pits the financial interests of health care providers, especially in cases where the provider and insurer are the same entity, against the needs of patients". However, the right-to-die bill, which Brown signed in October 2015, was drafted to take effect in June 2016.

"The act itself was rushed through the special session of the legislature and it does not have any of the safeguards one would expect to see in a law like this", he said.

Kevin Díaz, national director of legal advocacy for Compassion & Choices, which advocates aid in dying, said overturning the assisted-suicide law would force terminally ill Californians to "suffer through needlessly prolonged deaths".

However, the judge is holding his judgment for five days to give the state time to file an emergency appeal. The California Attorney General has vowed to appeal the ruling.

"We need government to promote the value of life, to support compassionate end-of-life care measures, and to empower doctors to aggressively treat pain-not to legalize ways to end patients' lives or save money by cutting healthcare short near the end of life", Dr. Stevens said.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, "We strongly disagree with this ruling and the State is seeking expedited review in the Court of Appeal".

"If this isn't Californians' health care, I don't know what is", said Eggman, a former social worker at hospices, who disputes Ottolia's conclusion that her bill should not have been considered during the special session.

Asked for a comment, Brown's office said Ottolia's current assessment of the right-to-die law's relationship to public health was different from his analysis in 2016, when he let the law remain in effect.

Larson said the special session was not called to debate assisted suicide but rather California's Medicaid welfare program serving low-income families and persons with disabilities, among others. Life Legal Defense Foundation attorneys who represent the American Academy of Medical Ethics, (www.ethicalhealthcare.org) CMDA's state public policy arm, in the lawsuit appeared in court yesterday to argue that the Act is not related or even incidental to the stated objective of the special session.

Matt Fairchild, a California resident with a terminal melanoma diagnosis, called Tuesday's ruling his "worst nightmare".

"Proponents say it provides dignity to terminally ill patients by affording them more control over the end of their lives".

Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, who backed the bill, charged that the judge's decision interfered with Californians in the process of securing the lethal drugs under the law.

"We are hopeful that the state accepts this decision and that the matter is referred back to the Legislature for further consideration", Larson said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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