On Thursday, California’s state Senate voted to bring into effect the “right to die” law which will allow patients suffering from terminal illnesses to end their lives by taking medication prescribed by their physicians.
Getting clearance by a 23 to 14 vote, the End of Life Option Act will head to the state Assembly. The State vote, however, was divided; all Republicans stood opposed to the notion, while all Democrats other than Tony Mendoza, D-Artesia, were in support.
Sen. Bill Monning, D-Monterey, co-sponsor of Senate Bill 128, said, “We count today’s vote as a historic step forward. We hear a lot of different tough issues being debated, but I can’t remember an issue that commanded greater attention,” as reported by San Jose Mercury News.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) did not say whether he will sign the law if it passes in the Assembly.
According to The Huffington Post, if the law comes to power, doctors will be allowed to prescribe lethal medications to patients suffering from terminal diseases as long as they meet several criteria: the patient has been given a prognosis of less than six months to live by two physicians; has given a written request for the medication; and is mentally capable of making decisions about his/her health.
Attempts have been made to bring similar laws into effect in California before – at ballot box and through Legislature. If the law comes into effect, the state will join Oregon, Vermont and Washington that allow physician assisted deaths.
The right to die issue gained national attention following Brittany Maynard, 29, who died in November after suffering from terminal brain cancer. Maynard, who moved from California to Oregon to end her life by consuming prescribed medication, is credited for bringing death-with-dignity laws to public attention.
Maynard chronicled her final weeks in videos posted online, saying that she should have been given the green signal to receive prescribed lethal drugs in California to end her life. Her videos elicited national televised interviews.
Although several states have considered validating such measures, the move has also met with severe criticism from opposition.
Catholic Church called the practice of doctor-assisted deaths as “assisted suicide,” saying that it is against the will of God. Other people have expressed their concerns that terminally ill patients may feel compelled to end their lives fearing that they’re only burdening their families.
Maynard’s mother, Deborah Ziegler, and husband, Dan Diaz, witnessed the Senate vote.
According to Contra Costa Times, Diaz said in a statement, “The Senate vote is an affirmation of what Brittany started.
“Brittany would be very proud to see the monumental shift occurring on the End of Life Option legislation.”
Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, was in support of the plan, saying it “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,” as reported by TIME.
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