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“Right to Die” law comes to California

Gabriel Moisa

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Governor Jerry Brown of California signed a bill on October 5 that enacts the “right to die” law starting next year; which allows assisted suicide for terminally ill patients. This law provides the state with the option of giving life-ending drugs to terminally ill patients who want to take their own lives. California is now one of the five states in the nation which has passed this law, including Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana.

The lawmakers responsible for the passing of this bill started paying more attention to the end-of-life issues this year after the highly publicized story of Brittany Maynard moved to Oregon to legally kill herself in 2014. Since then California courts have been working through what a Washington Post article deemed “the most emotionally intense legislative battle of the year” for the state. The national right-to-die advocacy group Compassion and Choices, as well as terminally ill patients and priests, wrote in to the California courts expressing their ideas about the right-to-die debate.

Originally, Governor Jerry Brown had his reservations about the bill that would form the right-to-die law in California. The California Catholic Conference issued a statement calling on Brown to veto the bill during the beginning of September when the issue was first introduced, causing further conflict over his religious morals and feelings of political obligation.

Eventually the governor changed his mind on the topic after a month of debating the matter with former Jesuit classmates, two of his own doctors and a Catholic bishop. “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain,” Brown wrote in a signing statement. “I am certain, however, that it would be a comfort to be able to consider the options afforded by this bill, and I wouldn’t deny that right to others.”

 “I would support the law being passed in Virginia,” junior Moné Parker said, “because if the person is suffering then it should be their personal decision on whether to end that suffering, if the doctors can’t help them anymore.”  Currently there is no right-to die-law in Virginia, or any legislative activity concerning it. The ethical argument of whether assisted suicide is “right” or “wrong” is one of the biggest factors keeping states from passing the law.

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