File Photo of the End of Life Act advocate, Christy O’Donnell of Valencia. (Photo: Compassion & Choices)
Terminally ill Californians will have the option to legally end their lives with doctor prescribed medication in nearly three months.
State lawmakers closed a special session regarding health care on Thursday, allowing the End of Life Option Act, which grants terminally-ill patients the right to request physician-assisted suicide, to go into effect on June 9.
This ends months of uncertainty for patients hoping to use the method and makes California the fifth state in the nation to adopt the practice.
“This development 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,” said Toni Broaddus, California campaign director for ‘Compassion & Choices’–an advocacy group in favor of physician-assisted suicide, according to a press release published on the Compassion & Choices website following the news.
The legislation had passed early October of last year following the highly publicized case involving Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old California woman with brain cancer who moved to Oregon to legally end her life in 2014.
Another big proponent of passing the law was Christy O’Donnell, a 47-year-old Valencia resident and former LAPD sergeant and lawyer, who strongly supported the passing of the legislation after she was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer and brain, liver, lung, rib and spine cancer in June 2014.
She strongly advocated the End of Life Option Act, and was the lead plaintiff in a suit that helped move California to pass the law which gave terminally ill patients the option of medical aid in dying. O’Donnell died in early February at her Valencia home.
Opponents of the law say it will allow for premature suicides.
The law requires for patients to have two separate meetings with a physician before a doctor can prescribe the life-ending medication. It also requires physicians to refer patients with possible mental health issues to mental health care providers. Certified translators are also required to be provided for non-English speakers.
Religious institutions, such as Catholic hospitals, are allowed to opt-out of the law or ban their doctors from aiding in assisted deaths.