Legislators re-introduce End of Life Option Act following court rulings

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SACRAMENTO – A coalition of lawmakers has introduced a bill in the Assembly to carry on the push to pass aid-in-dying reform this year, citing the urgency of the issue and its overwhelming support among Californians.

The bill's introduction follows two recent Superior Court rulings that have underlined that it is the role of the State Legislature to overturn the state's 141-year-old ban on aid-in-dying.

The bill, AB X2-15, authored by Susan Talamantes Eggman (D-Stockton), is nearly identical to SB128, authored by State Senators Bill Monning (D-Carmel) and Lois Wolk (D-Davis), and would allow mentally-capable, terminally-ill adults the option to request a doctor's prescription for aid-in-dying drugs to painlessly and peacefully hasten their death.

The bill's author, Assemblymember Eggman said time is running out for the Legislature to uphold its responsibility to the people of California.

"We promised that we were committed to continuing to fight for expanded end-of-life care options for Californians, and we have kept that promise. We will not wait another year. We will not wait for a ballot measure," Eggman said. "There are people right now who are facing a terminal diagnosis, watching this fight, praying for our success and hoping to be able to take control of their lives through these reforms. They don't have another year to wait; they are counting on this bill, this year."

In his dismissal in late July of a challenge to the state's ban on aid-in-dying filed by three terminally-ill Californians, including Christy O'Donnell, who has been an advocate of the End of Life Option Act, a Superior Court judge said that it is the responsibility of the legislature, not the courts, to change the law.

"Two California superior court judges have recently looked at this and told desperate and terminally ill patients it is the Legislature's responsibility to act. It's time to act now," Sen. Wolk said. "Every day, terminally ill Californians are suffering needlessly. They're asking for this option and have waited long enough. They must be allowed the right to die with dignity and compassion. "

Monning and Wolk had successfully shepherded the previous End of Life Option Act, SB 128, through the Senate before running aground in the Assembly Health Committee. They joined Eggman by co-authoring AB X2-15.

"Californians cannot wait any longer," Sen. Bill Monning said. "Today, there are mentally competent, terminally ill individuals in great pain looking to the Legislature to provide them with an aid-in-dying option but who are being denied the autonomy to approach death on their own terms. Almost seven out of 10 state residents agree that people should have the option to reduce suffering by taking aid-in-dying medication, and it is a disservice to these individuals and their families not to take action now."