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

Aaron Brown
May 17, 2018

Jerry Brown signed the End of Life Option Act into law, outlining that he had spoken to those on both sides of the issue before making his decision.

The mission of Life Legal is to give innocent and helpless human beings of any age, particularly unborn children, a trained and committed defense against the threat of death, and to support their advocates in the nation's courtrooms.

"We are pleased with today's ruling, which reinstates critical legal protections for vulnerable patients", Life Legal Defense Foundation Executive Director Alexandra Snyder said in a statement on the ruling.

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.

Why was the law struck down?

In a letter to members of the California State Assembly discussing his decision on the bill, ABX2 15, Brown, a Democrat, explained that he didn't think it should be a crime for "a dying person to end his life".

Since Maynard'd death on November 1, 2014 at age 29, her husband Dan Diaz has helped push for the passage of a right-to-die law in their home state of California - as well as similar legislation in Hawaii, Colorado and Washington, D.C.

Diaz, however, said he feels newly energized to push for legislation in California and elsewhere.

A total of seven states - California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - as well as the District of Columbia have laws on the books legalizing medical aid in dying for terminally ill patients, terminology preferred by advocates to the phrase "physician-assisted suicide". Of those, 111 ingested the prescribed drugs and died; 87.4% were 60 or older, and 83.8% were receiving hospice and/or palliative care.

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The law allows physicians to prescribe lethal drugs to Californians diagnosed as having less than six months to live. "While we respect the plaintiffs' personal opposition to the law, they certainly should not be able to take away the ability of other doctors to offer this option to dying patients to peacefully end their suffering".

She added that Stanford patients have mostly responded positively to the law. "So, I said, 'Well, what about the drugs they are using for the new [assisted suicide] law?"

Meanwhile, there's the other side of the equation: physician participation.

John C. Kappos, an attorney representing Compassion & Choices, said he believes the passage of the law was constitutional because aid-in-dying is a healthcare issue.

A Christian mother who was offered a lethal dose of suicide pills as alternative treatment for her terminal cancer a week after California's physician-assisted suicide law went into effect nearly two years ago, celebrated on Tuesday when a state judge overturned the law calling it unconstitutional.

"This is about giving doctors the right to assist in killing".

OR was the first to legalize physician-assisted suicide with a statute that took effect in 1998. "The so-called right to die very quickly becomes the duty to die". California was the fifth state to take such a step.

"The act itself was rushed through the special session of the legislature and it does not have any of the safeguards one would expect to see in a law like this", he said.

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