The California state Senate voted on June 4 to advance right-to-die legislation that would allow terminally ill patients to end their own life under the care of a physician.
State senators approved of the measure by a 23 to 14 vote, where it will now move on to the state Assembly for a vote.
Right-to-life legislation has been discussed more frequently since the death of 29-year-old Brittany Maynard, who moved from California to Oregon to receive end-of-life treatment. She died via physician-assisted suicide on Nov. 1, 2014.
Oregon allows for the practice, where medicine is prescribed to patients who request it. At the time of Maynard’s death, California did not allow such practices to occur.
Previous attempts at legalizing the practice in the nation’s most populous state have failed. The Associated Press noted that a measure in 2007 was opposed by prominent Catholic and medical groups, leading to the bill’s failure.
Legislators who worked on the updated version carefully progressed the bill with all groups and views in mind. For example, state Sens. Lois Wolk and Bill Monning included protections for physicians who prescribe the end-of-life medication to patients.
The legislation allows those with only six months to live to receive the medication and the patients must administer the medicine themselves, rather than have a doctor administer it.
State Sen. Holly Mitchell, a Democrat from Los Angeles, supported the idea.
The bill “will not force me, if it is not my religious, cultural, ethical belief to do this. It gives me the right, and gives me access to make a personal choice,” Mitchell said.
Those who voted against it worried about the state’s reputation.
“What’s going to be the new theme of the state of California? Come play, live and die in California?” asked Sen. Jeff Stone, a Republican.
Gov. Jerry Brown has yet to comment on the bill, but other Democrats are concerned the devout Catholic may veto the legislation. As a young man, Brown considered becoming a Catholic priest.
“This is a governor who will struggle with this issue given his background,” Wolk said of Brown’s decision in March.
Photo Credit: Screenshot via Women's Health