Judge tosses California law allowing life-ending drugs

Right to Die: Judge overturns assisted suicide law

Riverside Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia agreed, ruling on May 15 that "the End of Life Option Act, which decriminalizes physician-assisted suicide, does not fall within the scope of access to healthcare services", and that it "is not a matter of health care funding".

However, John C. Kappos, an attorney representing pro-suicide Compassion and Choices, argued for the constitutionality of the law, since he believes it is health care: "Ultimately, we are confident an appeals court will rule the legislature duly passed the End of Life Option Act and reinstate this perfectly valid law, which the strong majority of Californians support". Jerry Brown signed the End of Life Option Act into law, outlining that he had spoken to those on both sides of the issue before making his decision.

Groups including the Life Legal Defense Foundation and the American Academy of Medical Ethics filed a lawsuit to overturn the law on the day it took effect.

However, the judge is holding his judgment for five days to give the state time to file an emergency appeal.

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement that his office "strongly disagreed" with the judge's finding and would seek an expedited appeal.

Why was the law struck down?

"Proponents say it provides dignity to terminally ill patients by affording them more control over the end of their lives".

In January 2018, the California Catholic Conference reiterated its opposition to assisted suicide and criticized the lack of data collected and the lack of transparency of the law's implementation. Of those, 111 ingested the prescribed drugs and died; 87.4% were 60 or older, and 83.8% were receiving hospice and/or palliative care.

Unless an appeals court suspends the ruling, it will prevent mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six months or less to live from using the law, the group Compassion & Choices, a national organization supporting medical aid-in-dying, said in a statement.

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"To be honest, a little bit surprised", Snyder said of the judge's ruling.

“The duty of the Legislature in special session to confine itself to the subject matter of the call is of course mandatory.

She added that Stanford patients have mostly responded positively to the law. They also claim the law promotes the wrong message for terminally ill patients who, despite the law's strict requirements, may be enticed to request the life-ending drugs rather than continue treatment. Choice is really an illusion for a very few. "This is about giving doctors the right to assist in killing".

"If this isn't Californians' health care, I don't know what is", said Eggman, a former social worker at hospices, who disputes Ottolia's conclusion that her bill should not have been considered during the special session. Ottolia found that the doctors do have standing to bring challenges on behalf of their patients.

Worse, for patients, "the so-called right to die very quickly becomes the duty to die", Stevens said.

OR was the first to legalize physician-assisted suicide with a statute that took effect in 1998.

A week after California's physician-assisted suicide law went into effect on June 9, 2016, however, Packer who is a mother of four got a letter from her health insurance company advising her that the doctor-recommended chemotherapy treatment for her lung and related cancer the company had previously promised was now being denied.

Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman, who backed the bill, charged that the judge's decision interfered with Californians in the process of securing the lethal drugs under the law.

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