CA Assisted Suicide Struck Down

May 16, 2018

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel Ottolia has overturned California’s law legalizing assisted suicide and ruled it was illegally passed during a special session devoted to other topics.

Judge Ottolia indicated the End of Life Option Act was improperly passed during a special session that was supposed to address Medicaid funding shortfalls, services for the disabled and in-home health support services. The judge ruled that the state legislature should not have approved the assisted suicide law because the subject of the law fell outside the grounds of the special session. However, Judge Ottolia is holding his judgement for five days which allows the state to file an emergency appeal, something California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who says he strongly disagrees with the ruling, says he plans to do. 

Signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2015, the assisted death law allows doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to patients with six months or less to live, but plaintiffs say it lacks safeguards to protect against abuse.

California health officials reported that 111 terminally ill people took drugs to end their lives in the first six months after the law went into effect June 9, 2016.

California is one of seven states and the District of Columbia that currently has legal protections for assisted suicide. They account for about one-fifth of the U.S. population.

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