A new California bill that was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown last October allowing terminally ill people to request life-ending medication from their physicians, is set to become law the second week of June.
NPR reports that the so called “End of Life Option Act,” which was passed in an unusual way, could not go into effect until 90 days after the session had closed just yesterday. California is the fifth state to authorize the option for patients in dire medical circumstances.
“We’re glad to finally have arrived at this day where we have a date certain,” said State Sen. Bill Monning. “It’s a historic achievement for California, and for a limited universe of people dealing with a terminal illness. It could indeed be a transformative way of giving them the option of a compassionate end-of-life process.”
Disability-rights advocates fought against the bill, despite California’s legislator aim in passing it. According to Marilyn Golden, senior policy analyst with the Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund, depressed individuals might cycle through doctors until they found one who would approve a request for lethal medication.
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“We are looking ahead at measures to protect people from abuse, and to explore and inform doctors, nurses and pharmacists that they don’t have to participate,” Golden said.
However, the law states that two physicians must agree that the patient only has six months or less to live, before prescribing any type of life-ending drugs.
NPR says that some patients across the state welcome the news due to their advanced forms of cancers.
“It gives me a great peace of mind to know that I will not be forced to die slowly and painfully,” said Elizabeth Wallner, who is a 52-year-old single mother with stage 4 colon cancer that has spread to her liver and lungs. “It gives great comfort to know that the agonizingly traumatic image of me suffering will not be my family’s last memory of me.”