Californians Demand End of Life Option

California death-with-dignity advocate Jennifer Glass

California death-with-dignity advocate Jennifer Glass

The authors of a bill that would allow terminally ill adults the option to request a doctor’s prescription for medication to shorten their dying process decided not to present it, SB 128, before the Assembly Health Committee to give Assemblymembers more time to consider the bill.

“SB 128 is still alive and well, even though we weren’t ready for it to be heard before the Assembly Health Committee,” said Compassion & Choices California Campaign Director Toni Broaddus. “Seven out of every ten California voters want to see this bill become law, so we will not stop until we make that happen.”

A bipartisan poll last month showed 69 percent of California voters, including 70 percent of Latinos and 60 percent of Catholics, support SB 128, also known as the End of Life Option Act. The bill is authored by Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning, Senate Majority Whip Lois Wolk and Assemblymember Susan Talamantes Eggman.

 California death-with-dignity advocate Michael Saum

California death-with-dignity advocate Michael Saum

The End of Life Option Act was inspired by the public advocacy of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old Californian with terminal brain cancer. She had to move to Oregon last year to utilize its death-with-dignity law to end her unbearable suffering so she could die peacefully.

[ Also Read: Was Brittany Maynard Right to End Her Life? ]

“This issue is urgent for dying Californians like Jennifer Glass, Christy O’Donnell, Michael Saum and hundreds of others who are suffering unbearably at the end of their lives,” added Broaddus. “We are redoubling our commitment to passing the End of Life Option Act for all other Californians who want and need the option of medical aid in dying.”

 California Death-with-Dignity advocate Christy O'Donnell with her 21-year-old daughter Bailey O'Donnell

California Death-with-Dignity advocate Christy O’Donnell with her 21-year-old daughter Bailey O’Donnell

The End of Life Option Act was closely modeled after the death-with-dignity law in Oregon, which has worked well for 17 years, without a single documented case of abuse or coercion. Four other states authorize the option of medical aid in dying: Washington, Montana, Vermont and New Mexico.

“This battle is far from over,” added Broaddus. “We owe it to Brittany Maynard’s family and terminally ill Californians to pursue every available path to give them relief from unbearable suffering.”

Compassion & Choices is a nonprofit organization working to improve care and expand choice at the end of life.

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