Wednesday, 17 October, 2018

Husband of woman who inspired 'right to die' law speaks on changes

Right to Die: Judge overturns assisted suicide law Judge pulls plug on California's assisted-suicide law
Ellis Copeland | 17 May, 2018, 23:22

California's attorney general will appeal a judge's decision yesterday that overturned the state's physician aid-in-dying law.

Ottolia ruled the California legislature violated the law by passing the End of Life Option Act during a special legislative session dedicated exclusively to health care-related issues, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The initial legislative effort to pass an assisted suicide bill failed in committee during the 2015 regular season, following months of media attention to the case of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with an aggressive brain tumor who moved from California to OR in order to take advantage of legal physician-assisted suicide there. Opposition to the law has been led by some religious groups and advocates for the disabled.

"And [the insurance agent] says, 'Yes, we do provide that to our patients, and you would only have to pay $1.20 for the medication, '" she said.

"To be honest, a little bit surprised", Snyder said of the judge's ruling.

From June 9, 2016 to December 31, 2016, 191 terminally ill Californians received prescriptions from 174 doctors for aid-in-dying medication, according to the California Department of Public Health. They also claim the law promotes the wrong message for terminally ill patients who, despite the law's strict requirements, may be enticed to request the life-ending drugs rather than continue treatment. Normally when there is a suspected suicide, authorities investigate the cause of death to see if the person was coerced, she said.

Reversing the assisted-suicide law "would have devastating consequences for terminally ill Californians, who will be forced to suffer through needlessly prolonged deaths, and their families", said Kevin Díaz, Compassion and Choices' national director of legal advocacy. "We strongly disagree with this ruling and the State is seeking expedited review in the Court of Appeal", the attorney general's office said in a statement.

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"Suicide does not improve health", she wrote.

California's End of Life Option Act requires patients to get approval from two physicians, and mandates a 15-day waiting period between the two oral requests they must submit, one to each doctor, before they can obtain the lethal drug to end their life.

The California law permits state residents who have been diagnosed with terminal illnesses and supposedly have less than six months of life remaining to receive a prescription from a physician for a lethal dose of drugs.

Supporters of the law say its passage was valid because end-of-life options are health care options.

A group of doctors represented by the Life Legal Defense Foundation challenged the California law, arguing that it lacked safeguards and could be exploited by greedy relatives.

Worse, for patients, "the so-called right to die very quickly becomes the duty to die", Stevens said. "Brown, the attorney general and the courts to keep this law in effect", said Maynard's husband Dan Diaz, in a prepared statement.

Only a handful of states have authorized medically assisted suicide: California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, in addition to the District of Columbia. "Brittany was simply saying, 'I will not die that way, and I shouldn't be forced to, '" he said.

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