In a new victory for right-to-die advocates, California may soon become the fifth state to allow terminally ill patients the right to end their lives with the assistance of medical professionals. The California bill is based on an already existing Oregon right-to-die law that permits doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication to patients with less than six months to live.
One patient hoping for approval of the law is 51-year-old Elizabeth Wallner, who has been battling one form of cancer or another for four years now with cancer attacking her colon, lungs, and liver.
“Well I call it ‘Whack a Mole’ cancer now. We beat it back and it pops up somewhere else,” Wallner said.
CBS News reports that Ms. Wallner is the latest to go to battle against the state of California in the hopes of winning the right to die when she chooses, as opposed to having to fight off endless attacks from an incurable disease.
“I’ve experienced just unimaginable pain and fear, and I don’t see any value in my last days being spent gasping for breath and writhing in pain.”
Recent right-to-die activists have been inspired and represented by the story of Brittany Maynard, who was diagnosed with brain cancer at 29 and became the face of the right-to-die movement last year. The right-to-die issue compelled Maynard and her husband, Dan Diaz, to move from California to Oregon.
“How dare the government make decisions or limit options for terminally ill people like me,” Brittany asked in a video she posted to YouTube before her death.
“She was simply saying, it’s ridiculous that we have to leave home, drive 600 miles north in the middle of her being told that she’s dying of a brain tumor,” Diaz said. “Nobody should have to do that.”
Now it seems California is listening. Toledo News Now reports that the California Assembly approved the bill on a 43-34 vote and is now awaiting final approval from California Governor Jerry Brown.
Some say that a California right-to-die law would go a long way toward pushing similar laws through in other states.
“I think lawmakers will be more comfortable voting for aid-in-dying, knowing that a big jurisdiction like California has already done so,” said Barbara Coombs Lee, president of Compassion & Choices. “It’s hard for lawmakers sometimes to think about being the pioneers in a social change movement. It will be easier for them to feel that they are one more state coming along in the assimilation of a new medical practice.”
[Featured image: Brittany Maynard courtesy of Compassion & Choices – www.TheBrittanyFund.org]