POLITICS

California Lawmakers Advance Right-To-Die Bill Inspired By Brittany Maynard

06/04/2015 05:14 pm ET | Updated Jun 04, 2015
ASSOCIATED PRESS

California's state Senate voted Thursday to advance legislation allowing terminally ill patients to choose to end their own lives with the assistance of a physician.

The End of Life Option Act, which passed 23 to 14, will now head to the state Assembly. California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has not indicated whether he would sign the measure into law if it does pass in the Assembly.

The legislation would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication to patients meeting several criteria: the patient has received a prognosis of less than six months to live from two physicians, has submitted a written request for the medication, has made two oral requests to a physician at least 15 days apart and has the mental capacity to make decisions about their health on their own.

The measure was inspired by Brittany Maynard, the 29-year-old San Francisco Bay Area resident who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer last year. Maynard decided to move to Oregon, where it's legal for doctors to help their patients end their own lives. (A "death with dignity" law has been in place in the state since 1997.) Maynard died on November 1, 2014, and her family has since lobbied for the California legislation.

"Brittany would be very proud to see the monumental shift occurring on the End of Life Option legislation," Maynard's husband, Dan Diaz, said in a statement following the vote.

The right-to-die push got a major boost last month when the California Medical Association, which represents more than 40,000 physicians in the state, dropped its longstanding opposition to the movement. The bill also received support from nationally prominent politicians like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who in March said she backs the measure.

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