California judge overturns End of Life Option Law
Groups including the Life Legal Defense Foundation and the American Academy of Medical Ethics filed a lawsuit to overturn the law on the day it took effect. In a separate motion, they argued that medical aid in dying was not related to the stated purpose of the special legislative session that passed the act, explained Alexandra Snyder, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement, “We strongly disagree with this ruling and the State is seeking expedited review in the Court of Appeal.”
If the emergency appeal is denied, the law will be immediately struck down.
The judge’s ruling “is not a surprise, as the End of Life Option Act entered review by the legislature through an abnormal path,” said Dr. Stephanie Harman, a clinical associate professor in Stanford University’s Department of Medicine and a faculty member in the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics.
She added that Stanford patients have mostly responded positively to the law. Primarily, patients “want to discuss what matters most at the end of their lives and understand what their options are and what will align best with their wishes,” she said.
Meanwhile, there’s the other side of the equation: physician participation. “Doctors, by the generic polls, have been generally supportive; in practice, very few participate,” she said.
Dr. David Stevens, executive director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, a national organization that has advocated against medically assisted suicide since 1994, said the End of Life Option Act “isn’t about giving patients the right to die. This is about giving doctors the right to assist in killing.”
He believes that physician-assisted suicide is “dangerous for the health care profession. It destroys trust between the doctor and the patient.”
Worse, for patients, “the so-called right to die very quickly becomes the duty to die,” Stevens said.
Only a handful of states have authorized medically assisted suicide: California, Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington, in addition to the District of Columbia.
In California, opponents including Catholic leaders and medical groups defeated a 1992 initiative to legalize aid-in-dying and stalled other bills in the state Legislature. Opponents argue that these laws could lead to coercion and abuse of vulnerable patients.
CNN’s Stella Chan contributed to this report.
News credit : Cnn