The California Senate Health Committee passed the California End-of-Life Option Act by a 5-2 vote, but will it make it through the next rounds before getting signed into law?

The California End-of-Life Option Act was inspired by the true story of a California woman named Brittany Maynard who had been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Maynard didn't want to put herself or her family through additional pain and suffering so she went to Oregon, one of five states where doctors can legally prescribe life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients, and committed suicide. 

Before her death last year, Maynard provided video testimony urging California lawmakers to pass legislation similar to Oregon's Death with Dignity Act, saying,

“Please take action. Every terminally ill American deserves the choice to die with dignity. Freedom from prolonged pain and suffering is a most basic human right. Please make Death with Dignity an American health care choice."

Lawmakers listened to Maynard's request. They pushed their own version of the law, the End-of-Life Option Act, through the Senate Health Committee. For the bill to become law though, it must still be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, both houses of the Legislature, and then Governor Jerry Brown. Gaining public support will also be challenging. While a slight majority of public opinion on the issue is favorable, conservative, disability, and religious groups have voiced strong opposition. 

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that, 

"Opponents are concerned individuals who don’t want to die could be coerced into requesting end-of-life drugs, perhaps because they won’t want to be a burden on their family; that prescribed medicine could end up in the wrong hands; and that the drugs might not work. Instead, drugs might cause horrible and traumatic pain."

The bill’s requirements are as follows:

  • It applies only to California adult residents with a diagnosis of a terminal illness and six months or less to live.
  • Two separate physicians must confirm the patient’s prognosis.
  • Physicians must also confirm patient is mentally competent and has the ability to self-administer end-of-life drugs.
  • Participation by doctors, pharmacists and healthcare facilities is voluntary.
  • Patients maintain the right to rescind their request for medication at any time.

We want to know what you guys think. Do terminally ill patients have the right to take their own lives? Who owns the rights to your body? The Governor answers that same question in the video below. 

-By Brigida S., The Off the Grid Team

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.

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