Design by Lily Therens; elements from Shutterstock

Design by Lily Therens; elements from Shutterstock

The Right to Choose

California’s End of Life Option Act offers options to those mentally competent enough to choose

Back Article May 21, 2015 By Anita Creamer

When 32-year-old Californian Brittany Maynard ended her life on Nov. 1 in Oregon under that state’s Death with Dignity laws, she gave the aid-in-dying movement new momentum across the country. Compassion & Choices, the national group that advocates in favor of right-to-die laws and is helping spearhead current efforts in the California legislature, says more than half of physicians surveyed in a recent poll would support a terminally ill patient deciding to end their suffering through assisted suicide.

California’s Senate Bill 128, recently approved by the California Senate Health Committee is modeled on the Oregon law, which went into effect in 1997. It would allow only patients who are terminally ill and mentally competent to request prescriptions to end their lives.

Opposing the measure are the California Medical Association, which has long fought against assisted suicide laws, as well as religious groups and disability advocates who fear the law could be used to pressure the disabled into dying. Their efforts helped defeat past Death with Dignity bills in California in 2006 and 2007.

For more on end-of-life rights and regulations, check back next week for Anita Creamer’s May feature, “Hand to Mouth: The laws and ethics of dying by starvation.” Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email you when it’s available online.