Health

Assisted Suicide In California Legal From June

| by Jordan Smith
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June 9 is the date when medically assisted suicide will be legalized in California.

The legislative change comes after Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill on the issue in October 2015, according to media reports.

The law requires two doctors to agree that a patient has less than six months to live before prescribing the lethal medication.

Patients also have to request the drugs on two separate occasions 15 days apart and sign a declaration in front of two adult witnesses. The patient must be capable of swallowing the medication independently.

“We’re glad to finally have arrived at this day where we have a date certain,” Democratic State Sen. Bill Monning of Carmel said, according to KQED.

California will become the fifth U.S. state to allow assisted dying, following Vermont, Oregon, Washington and Montana.

“It’s a historic achievement for California, and for a limited universe of people dealing with a terminal illness,” Monning added. “It could indeed be a transformative way of giving them the option of a compassionate end-of-life process.”

The measure was extremely controversial. It was introduced by supporters into a special legislative sitting so as to avoid having to secure the support of committee members, where there was stiff opposition.

Speaking on behalf of Californians Against Assisted Suicide, Tim Rosales said his group “remains strongly critical of this new law and its lack of medical oversight and actual patient safeguards."

"We will continue working with our partners, including doctors, patients and disability rights organizations to educate those impacted and vulnerable, as well as working to limit the law’s harm and prevent any expansion,” Rosales said on behalf of his group, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Marilyn Golden of the Disability Rights Education Defense Fund was also concerned.

“We are looking ahead at measures to protect people from abuse,” she told KQED, adding, “and to inform doctors, nurses and pharmacists that they don’t have to participate.”

Some patients with terminal illnesses took a different view.

“It gives me a great peace of mind to know that I will not be forced to die slowly and painfully,” Elizabeth Wallner, who has stage four cancer, told KQED.

Others who backed adoption of the legislation have since died.

Brittany Maynard of Orange County, California, moved to Oregon and died there in 2014. Before taking the lethal drugs, she recorded a video message on voicing her pro-view on medically-assisted dying which was played during hearings on the law.

Sources: KQED via NPR, Los Angeles Times / Photo credit: Wikicommons

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