By Kaitlyn Schaeffer
Yesterday, the California Senate passed the End-of-Life Option Act by a vote of 23 to 14. The bill, if it garners approval from the Assembly and Governor Jerry Brown, will make it legal for California residents with terminal illnesses to end their lives with doctor-prescribed medication.
The bill was modeled after Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act.
While assisted death has long been a subject of debate among Californians, Brittany Maynard helped propel the issue to the top of the legislative agenda. Maynard, a California resident who suffered from terminal brain cancer, was unable to end her life in her own state, so she moved to Oregon. Before her death, she videotaped a heartfelt message, pleading with California lawmakers to reconsider their stance on assisted death.
The bill was authored by Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) and Senator Bill Monning (D-Caramel). It permits the terminally ill to “end their lives in peace.”
The debate surrounding the bill was emotionally charged and filled with personal, tragic anecdotes. Wolk spoke at length of her mother’s prolonged, brutal battle with cancer; Brittany Maynard’s husband and mother were allowed to be present in the chamber during the two hour debate.
The bill passed roughly along party lines. It’s fate in the Assembly is unknown, and Governor Jerry Brown, who once considered becoming a Catholic priest, has not publicly taken a stance on the issue.
Read more about California’s End-of-Life Option Act here.