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05/15/2018

California Judge Overturns California Medical Aid-in-Dying Law

A California judge granted a motion
by opponents of the California End of Life Option Act to
overturn the law because he said the legislature violated the state
constitution by passing it during a special session limited to health care
issues. (HT: C&C)

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Daniel A. Ottolia gave the state attorney
general five days to file an emergency appeal of the ruling in the case, Ahn
vs. Hestrin
 — Case
RIC1607135
, before it will take effect.
Unless the appeals court suspends
the ruling, it will prevent mentally capable, terminally ill adults with six
months or less to live from utilizing the law, which authorizes them to utilize
medical aid in dying as a palliative care option to peacefully end unbearable
suffering.
“We respectfully believe the Court
misinterpreted the application of the state constitution to this law because
medical aid in dying is a recognized health care option,” said John C. Kappos,
a partner in the O’Melveny law firm representing Compassion & Choices,
a national organization promoting end-of-life care options that successfully
advocated for the legislature to pass the law. “Ultimately, we are confident an
appeals court will rule the legislature duly passed the End of Life Option Act
and reinstate this perfectly valid law, which the strong majority of Californians support.”

Last June, Compassion
& Choices released a report
 estimated that 504 Californians
have received prescriptions for medical aid in dying since it took effect on
June 9, 2016. Last July, the California Department of Public Health released
a report showing 191 terminally ill Californians received prescriptions from
173 doctors for aid-in-dying medication from the nearly seven month period from
June 9, 2016 until Dec. 31, 2016; 111 of those individuals (58%) decided to
self-ingest the medication.

“This unjust ruling to take away
this compassionate option to peacefully end my suffering is my worst
nightmare,” said Matt Fairchild, a Catholic, 48-year-old, retired Army staff
sergeant from Burbank who
takes 26 medication to manage his symptoms from terminal melanoma that has
spread to his bones, lungs and brain. “I pray the attorney general successfully
appeals this decision, so hundreds of terminally ill Californians like me don’t
have to suffer needlessly at life’s end.”

“Overturning the End of Life Option
Act would have devastating consequences for terminally ill Californians, who
will be forced to suffer through needlessly prolonged deaths, and their
families,” said Kevin Díaz, national director of legal advocacy for Compassion
& Choices. “While we respect the plaintiffs’ personal opposition to the
law, they certainly should not be able to take away the ability of other
doctors to offer this option to dying patients to peacefully end their
suffering.”

“I made a promise to my wife
Brittany that I would continue her fight to authorize medical aid in dying in
California, and thanks to many terminally ill advocates like Matt Fairchild, we
did,” said Dan Diaz, husband of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman
from Alamo,
who had to move to Oregon in 2014 to utilize its medical aid-in-dying law
because California had not passed its law yet. “In Brittany’s honor, I will
once again focus all my efforts to convince Gov. Brown, the attorney general
and the courts to keep this law in effect.”

“If the End of
Life Option Act authorizing medical aid in dying is overturned, terminally ill
adults like the ones I worked with very closely during to passage of the law,
and their families will be forced to live through painful and prolonged
deaths,” said Dolores Huerta, civil rights activist. “
I understand the desperate need for medical aid-in-dying laws
from watching my mother needlessly die in agony from breast cancer because she
did not have this palliative care option. That is why 
spent long hours in California working to pass
the state’s End of Life Option Act.” 

“This is not about
politics or about a judge’s decision; this is about human compassion for the
terminally ill. Unfortunately, there are still opponents who want to politicize
this issue,” said Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera, a Methodist minister and member of
Compassion & Choices Latino Leadership Council. “This is a
compassionate law for our brothers and sisters. The God we know through Jesus
Christ is like a compassionate parent who would not want to see his children
suffer unnecessarily.”

California is one of seven states —
including Colorado,
Montana, Oregon, Vermont,
 Washington, and Hawai‘i — as well
as the District of
Columbia
, that have authorized medical aid in dying.
Collectively, these eight jurisdictions represent nearly one out of five
Americans (19%).

This entry was posted in Health Care and tagged . Posted by Thaddeus Mason Pope, JD, PhD. Bookmark the permalink.

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