Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

California's Right-to-Die Law Struck Down in State Court

California's Right-to-Die Law Struck Down in State Court

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. But Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia ultimately decided against the law on much narrower grounds, ruling that the Legislature passed it improperly during a special session on health care funding.

The Life Legal Defense Foundation, American Academy of Medical Ethics and several physicians challenged the law, which allows terminally ill adults to obtain a prescription for life-ending drugs if a doctor has determined they have six months or less to live.

Life Legal filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings in March 2018, arguing that the law should be overturned because the manner in which it was passed is unconstitutional. OR was the first to provide the option in 1997.

Supporters of the law argue that it provides a humane avenue for terminally ill patients, who still have the capacity to govern their lives, to elect for themselves how they wish to die.

Ottolia ruled that the California Legislature violated the law by passing the End of Life Option Act during a special session dedicated to healthcare issues.

The Democratic lawmakers who carried the original bill, Assemblywoman Susan Talamantes Eggman of Stockton and Sen.

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Life Legal attorneys said they appeared in court to argue the law, which decriminalizes physician-assisted suicide, is not related or even incidental to the stated goal of the special session and that suicide is not health care. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, vowed to re-introduce the measure before the full legislature. "The court made it very clear that assisted suicide has nothing to do with increasing access to health care and that hijacking the special session to advance an unrelated agenda is impermissible".

"It was a violation of the Constitution to basically slip in this suicide bill", she said, saying it set a unsafe precedent that undermines the legislative process.

The state's attorney general's office, in responding to the suit, noted that medical professionals have the right to refuse to prescribe and dispense the drugs.

In attendance at today's hearing was Stephanie Packer, who suffers from a terminal illness.

Associated Press writer Julie Watson contributed to this story from San Diego.

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