State Attorney General Appeals Ruling Against Assisted-Suicide

By William Vogeler, Esq. on May 24, 2018 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

California's attorney general is appealing a court decision that struck down the state's assisted-suicide law.

Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed the appeal after a Riverside judge ruled the law was unconstitutional. Judge Daniel Ottolia said legislators wrongly passed the law in a special session dedicated to healthcare.

The law, also known as the "right-to-die," has been controversial since California approved it three years ago. Its fate is now in the hands of judges at the Fourth District Court of Appeal.

End of Life

California became the fifth state in the nation to approve assisted-suicide; Oregon was the first with its version more than two decades ago. California's End of Life Option Act allows terminally ill people to kill themselves through lethal prescriptions when they have less than six months to live.

In the six months after it took effect, 111 people in California took their own lives under the law. According to reports, most of them were white, college-educated, cancer patients over age 60.

In ruling to overturn the law, Ottolia gave the state attorney general five days to challenge it. The state's attorney has asked the court of appeal to stay the ruling.

"I do not believe there will be a period of time in which the implementation of this statute will be interrupted," Kathryn Tucker, an attorney with the End of Life Liberty Project, told the Los Angeles Times.

'Pain and Suffering'

In his appeal, Becerra argues that the legislature acted within the scope of the special session on health care. "As the Governor indicated, the Act deals with pain, suffering, and the comfort of having the health care options afforded by the Act," the appeal says.

When he signed the law, Gov. Jerry Brown said he didn't know what he would do if faced with the end-of-life decision. But, he said, he would want the options afforded by the bill.

"And I wouldn't deny that right to others," he said.

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