Right-to-Die Bill for Terminally Ill Patients Crosses Biggest Hurdle in Calif.

The California State Assembly approved legislation Wednesday that would allow terminally ill patients to legally end their lives. Lawmakers voted 42-33 after listening to various emotional, religious, or first-hand experience debates about whether or not California would be the next state to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending medication to terminally ill patients. Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton) introduced the latest version of the bill during the special legislative session, convened by the governor.

The highly publicized case of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard brought statewide attention to aid-in-dying for terminally ill patients. Maynard was diagnosed with brain cancer and decided to move to Oregon, where she was able to take her own life with the assistance of doctors. There, doctors are legally able to prescribe medication to patients who have six months or less to live, in order to end their life.

If ABx2-15 is approved by the Senate and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, California would become the first state since Maynard’s death to pass an aid-in-dying bill. Vermont, Oregon, Montana and Washington are the only four states to allow doctors to prescribe life-ending drugs.

Opponents of the bill claim there are issues of abuse by family members who are readily available to take advantage of sick and dying family members. On the other hand, the supporters say there are no credible documented cases of abuse in the states that currently allow aid-in-dying.

The bill will go back to the Senate where it is rumored to have enough bipartisan support to pass. Governor Brown has yet to give any indication on whether he supports the bill or where he stands on the issue, but what we do know is that he is an avid Catholic who once had aspirations to become a priest.

Image: Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman (center) with Asms. Nora Campos and Jim Wood / Source: AP