California Assisted Suicide Legislation Goes Into Effect On June 9

After some confusion, the date is finally known for when California assisted suicide legislation will go into effect. The assisted suicide legislation known as the End Of Life Option Act goes into effect on June 9, 2016. The confusion as to when the new California law would finally start was due to circumstances surrounding the signing of the legislation last October.

The assisted suicide legislation was signed last October by Governor Jerry Brown. At the time of the signing, California’s government was in a session known as an “extraordinary session.” The newly signed bill allowing terminal patients to end their life would not be allowed to go into effect until 90 days after the “extraordinary session” was closed. This particular session ended today. Democratic Senator Bill Monning commented on the historic legislation.

“We’re glad to finally have arrived at this day where we have a date certain. 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.”

Passing legislation that allows a terminally ill patient to end their life via suicide has been a very sensitive topic for many years. Governor Brown did not sign the legislation into law without taking the time to hear and consider both sides of the argument. Brown stated that the determining factor for him was when he put himself in the position that many terminally ill patients find themselves in.

“I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain. I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill. And I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

Marg Hall, an advocate with the Bay Area disability rights group Communities United in Defense of Olmstead, does not share the same point of view as Governor Brown.

“Given the level of dysfunction and injustice that exists currently in our health care system, with many people without insurance still, with the very underfunded ability of people to have choices for treatment and care, adding this very potentially dangerous tool to the mix is of great concern to people with disabilities.”

The way the assisted suicide law is written states that a terminally ill patient would need to be seen by two doctors. These two doctors must both agree that the condition the patient has is terminal and the patient has six months or less left to live. If the requirements are met, medication will then be prescribed to the patient that will allow them to end their life. The patient must be able to take and swallow the medication without any assistance and they must also put in writing their intent to take the medication at least 48 hours before they do so.

When news of the passing of assisted suicide legislation broke, terminally ill patients across California rejoiced. Elizabeth Wallner is one of the people who was elated by the news. Wallner has been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer that has now spread to her liver and lungs. Wallner commented about the legislation.

“It gives me a great peace of mind to know that I will not be forced to die slowly and painfully. It gives great comfort to know that the agonizingly traumatic image of me suffering will not be my family’s last memory of me.”

California is now the fifth state in the United States to pass an assisted suicide law. California joins Vermont, Oregon, Washington, and Montana.

Do you think California made the right decision in passing assisted suicide legislation?

[Image Via AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File]

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