Starting next month, doctors in California can legally prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients who wish to end their lives. Despite protestations from the states Catholic bishops, Gov. Jerry Brown, a former Jesuit seminarian, signed the End of Life Option Act into law late last year, making California the fifth state to legalize physician-assisted suicide.
Physician-assisted suicide had been rejected by California voters in 1992 and by the state legislature in 2005, 2006, and 2007. It wasnt easy sledding for euthanasia advocates this time around either. The End of Life Option Act failed to win needed support during the regular state senate session, reports the Los Angeles Times (Mar. 10), so supporters introduced it in special session in order to bypass committees where opposition was strong.
Just like that, euthanasia has been legalized in the Golden State, despite longstanding opposition by its citizens. Gov. Brown has set June 9 as the date on which doctors can begin assisting their patients in putting an end to their earthly existences.
Naturally, those who favor assisted suicide are reveling in victory. Compassion & Choices (formerly known as the Hemlock Society), one of the leading lobbying groups that helped force the act through the legislature, has hailed it as a huge step forward. Campaign Director Toni Broaddus said in a statement (Mar. 10) that its passage is great news for terminally ill Californians because they soon will have the option to end unbearable end-of-life suffering by taking prescription medication to die gently in their sleep.
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