Early Monday, California Gov. Jerry Brown, signed a bill allowing terminally ill patients to legally end their lives. The “right-to-die” bill was introduced by California lawmakers earlier this year, and it was the first time they had done so since 2007.
Lawmakers drew momentum from the highly publicized case of 29 year old Brittany Maynard from the San Francisco Bay Area. She was diagnosed terminal brain cancer and then moved to Oregon to legally commit suicide in 2014. The only other states besides Oregon that currently allow assisted suicide are Washington, Vermont and Montana.
Gov. Brown, after signing the bill hinted at the personal struggle he had when it came to the bill itself. Brown, a lifelong Catholic, and a former Jesuit seminarian, consulted with several people about the bill including former classmates and doctors, before actually signing it.
In a signing statement Gov. Brown said, “I do not know what I would do if I were dying in prolonged and excruciating pain.” He then continued to say, “ 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.”
California’s assisted suicide bill shares the same framework as Oregon’s bill. In order for the patient to be able to receive the life ending drugs, they must have two doctors write off that they are mentally well enough to make the decision and that they have less than six months left to live. The patient must be able to take the drugs themselves and must do so in the presence of two witnesses, both of whom are not related to said patient.
At the moment there is no official date as to when the bill will be going into effect.