Judge invalidates state aid-in-dying law; appeal window is narrow

The judge said California's right-to-die law was passed improperly

Under the law, lethal prescriptions may be given to adults who are able to make medical decisions if their attending physician and a consulting physician have diagnosed a terminal disease expected to end in death within six months. Before that, two doctors must have determined that the patient would die within six months and was mentally competent to choose death.

A Christian mother who was offered a lethal dose of suicide pills as alternative treatment for her terminal cancer a week after California's physician-assisted suicide law went into effect nearly two years ago, celebrated on Tuesday when a state judge overturned the law calling it unconstitutional.

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.

Critics convinced Ottolia that while the state constitution permits the governor to issue proclamations to convene extraordinary legislative sessions, the Legislature is prohibited from enacting bills that are not the specific subject of the proclamation.

But the legislative push originally fell short amid opposition from oncologists, Catholic hospitals, clergy and disability rights groups, who argued that the policy was immoral and could have a detrimental impact on health care for the state's most vulnerable patients.

The judge had not yet issued a written ruling by deadline. The laws force doctors to harm their patients and can make patients feel pressured to commit suicide to cut costs for their families, critics counter.

In a Tuesday statement on Facebook, Packer expressed confidence that Judge Ottolia's ruling will stand.

Becerra claimed legislation passed during special sessions is presumed to be constitutional.


"That special session was called to address funding shortages caused by Medi-Cal", Larson said.

"I am so grateful that California's assisted suicide law was overturned today".

The initial legislative effort to pass an assisted suicide bill failed in committee during the 2015 regular season, following months of media attention to the case of Brittany Maynard, a 29-year-old woman with an aggressive brain tumor who moved from California to OR in order to take advantage of legal physician-assisted suicide there.

Her story incited more awareness for the Death With Dignity movement, which began in OR when a group of physicians helped pass the first statewide law that allowed for terminally ill patients to request drugs to end their lives.

A total of seven states - California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont and Washington - as well as the District of Columbia have laws on the books legalizing medical aid in dying for terminally ill patients, terminology preferred by advocates to the phrase "physician-assisted suicide". The state attorney was given five days to file an emergency appeal before the ruling will take effect.

There was no immediate comment from California Attorney General Xavier Becerra's office, which has defended the law in court. "For too many, assisted suicide will be the only affordable "treatment" that is offered them", the mother, Stephanie Packer, 35, said.

Eggman said Brown would have known "what he intended with the breadth of the special session", which also included objectives to "improve the efficiency and the efficacy of the health care system", and he signed the law.

In his decision, The Desert Sun reported, Ottolia argued the doctor-assisted suicide bill "does not fall within the scope of access to health care services" and "is not a matter of health care funding".

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