While much of the country has spent time debating the moral implications of a fetuss right to be born, California lawmakers have begun the discussion regarding an adults right to die. This discussion gained national attention when a 29-year-old woman in Oregon declared that she would be participating in Oregons assisted suicide procedure. Mrs. Brittany Maynard was suffering from terminal brain cancer and opted to end her life under an Oregon provision that was designed for terminal cases. Mrs. Maynard stated publicly that she wanted to end her life on her own terms and with dignity. In California, a group of Democratic legislators have recently introduced a bill called the End of Life Option Act. This Act has several similarities with the current law in place in Oregon.
The proposed bill, if signed into law, would have an effect on a very select group of patients. The bill only applies to patients who have less than six months to live. These patients must also be determined to be of sound mind. The patient would need to speak to a physician and make a request for the medication, both verbally and in writing. The patient would also need witnesses and more than one doctor would need to be involved throughout the process. If they met these criteria, the patients would be permitted to take a prescription that would speed the dying process. This is not the first time an act such as the End of Life Option Act has been presented to the California legislature; the others have failed.
California has citizens in similar situations as Mrs. Maynard was before her decision to end her life. One such citizen is named Jennifer Glass, and she is a resident of San Mateo, California. She was in her late forties when she was diagnosed with lung cancer a few short years ago. Her chances of surviving five years did not seem high to her treating physicians. Glass, who is a supporter of Californias right to die initiative, has stated, I dont know how long I have, I do know that the time I have, I could live more joyfully and love more fully, if I knew that I had options if cancer runs its course. Democratic Senator Bill Monning is also pushing for this bill for similar reasons. Monning believes that, A peaceful passing with compassion, both for patient and for suffering family members is the ultimate goal of this act.
A group known as Californians Against Assisted Suicide finds that this type of legislation could allow individual patients to have an effect on millions of people. Tim Rosales of CAAS stated that, Certainly many more states have opposed assisted suicide than supported assisted suicide and I dont expect that to change and we are prepared to vigorously fight against it. Rosales has said that disability rights advocates, doctors, and religious groups do not believe that prescriptions should be used to kill and should only be utilized to heal. He has also claimed that people choose life-ending methods out of fear of losing control or becoming a burden to others. He does not believe these are acceptable reasons to end a life.
At Brownstone Law we are intrigued by the debate and look forward to witnessing the outcome of this legal dispute.
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